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Title: Memoirs of the Marchioness of Pompadour (vol. 2 of 2)
Author: Pompadour, Jeanne Antoinette Poisson
Language: English
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                                OF THE

                       Marchioness of Pompadour.

                          WRITTEN BY HERSELF.

                         Wherein are Displayed

     The Motives of the Wars, Treaties of Peace, Embassies, and
     Negotiations, in the several Courts of Europe:

     The Cabals and Intrigues of Courtiers; the Characters of Generals,
     and Ministers of State, with the Causes of their Rise and Fall;
     and, in general, the most remarkable Occurrences at the Court of
     France, during the last twenty Years of the Reign of Lewis XV.

                      Translated from the French.

                            IN TWO VOLUMES.

                               VOL. II.

            Printed for P. Vaillant, in the Strand; and
                    W. JOHNSTON, in Ludgate-Street.

                              M DCC LXVI.


                                OF THE

                       Marchioness of Pompadour.

Lewis XV. as I have said in another place, visited me habitually. He
could not dispense with my company, which was become absolutely
necessary to him: but this inclination had not entirely removed a taste
for transitory amours. He yielded to them by constitution; but never
reflected on them without repentance. After an adventure of gallantry,
he was more constant than ever. Remorse brought him back to himself and
to me. I may venture to say, that I enjoyed his infidelity; and had he
been entirely divested of it, he would have given way to some other
passion, that would have separated him from me. I was under
apprehensions for some time that his mind would take a warlike turn: I
desired Maurice count Saxe, who regularly paid his court to him, after
the campaigns in Flanders, not to dwell so much upon battles and sieges:
but Lewis assured me, as I have already mentioned, that he had
sacrificed this inclination to the welfare of France.

The king had for some time devoted himself to politics; but this study
no way interfered with his amusements. He applied himself to it through
that beneficent disposition, which naturally prompts him to solace his
people. He was desirous of being possessed of the present state of
Europe: M. De Belleisle furnished him with it. The king shewed it to me:
it was a system of political-topography. The Marshal entered into a
minute detail upon the power of each government. He took a review of
all Europe, and stipulated the state of the forces of the different

M. de Noailles, who saw this state of Europe, said, “That there was too
much geometry in it; that the republic of Christendom was subject to so
many revolutions, which derived their origin from so many secondary
causes, wherewith politics had no kind of connexion, that cabinets
frequently obtained honour from what was the mere effect of fortune.
France, said he to me, exerted her influence to acquire Lorrain:
Cardinal Richelieu could not succeed in the business, and Mazarin
miscarried; accident threw it into the hands of France under the
administration of cardinal de Fleuri.

“Europe was engaged for near two hundred years in negociation and war,
to prevent the crown of Spain devolving to any branch of the house of
Bourbon. The will of a weak and languishing prince bequeathed it
entirely to France, at a time that Lewis XIV. did not even think of
being included in the treaty of partition.

“The English never could have imagined making a conquest of Gibraltar,
which gave them an ascendency in the ocean, and made them masters of the
Mediterranean; when the same accident that gave Spain to the house of
Bourbon, produced them the acquisition of that important fortress, which
they have ever since retained, though the reasons that induced them to
gain possession of it no longer subsist, &c.

“If we were to recur to the origin of great revolutions, we should find
that fortune governed the world, and that policy, which would reduce all
events to rule, prevails too much in the cabinet of princes. He added,
that these enumerations of the power of the states of Europe are
useless, as it is not strength that regulates the fate of governments,
but a certain combination of accidents, in opposition to which neither
negociations nor armies can prevail.”

I do not at present recollect the precise terms in which this memorial
of M. de Belleisle was conceived; I only remember that he concluded with
these words: “France cannot be hurt by all the great states of Europe:
Prussia only is to be feared, and England dreaded.”

Though the king had for some time been fond of talking of state affairs,
he was so polite as to dwell but little upon them in my company.
Notwithstanding what I have said of his gravity, there is no man in
France so agreeable at _a tête-a-tête_, as Lewis XV. He is some days so
happy and vivacious, as even to inspire mirth and joy.

I have frequently mentioned his goodness; I shall now give a little
anecdote, which will corroborate what I have said upon that head. One
night, after having been pretty late with me in my apartments, he told
me he should not dine with me the next day (as he frequently used to do)
having resolved to go to Marli, where he should remain till towards the
evening. My brother Marigni paid me a morning visit that day, and as I
was quite alone, I desired him to stay and dine with me. We conversed
together for some time, after which he went to take a turn in Versailles
gardens, till it was the hour to go to dinner.

The king altered his mind and did not go a riding. Instead of going to
Marli, he came to dine with me. He observed the table laid with two
covers, and as he had the day before acquainted me with his intended
journey, he testified his surprise, asking me for whom I had intended
the second cover. “Sire, I replied, my brother came to see me this
morning, and as I was alone, I invited him to dine with me; but as your
majesty does me that honour yourself, I shall send to acquaint him that
he cannot be a guest.” _No_, replied the king, _your brother is one of
the family; instead of removing the cover that was laid for him, only
lay another, and we will all three dine together_. My brother returned,
and the king behaved to him with all possible politeness. This is not an
important anecdote, but it displays this prince’s regard, even in the
most minute affairs.

M. Rouillé furnished the king every day with fresh estimates, by which
it appeared that the marine was re-established. This minister publickly
said in 1751, that he had seventy ships of the line, and thirty
frigates; but he said that he had more than there really were.
Ministers, in general, increase their plan; they almost constantly
confound the establishments already made, with those that still remain
to be made, and these latter frequently never take place.

A man of understanding said to me at that time, that if France had a
fleet of seventy men of war or frigates, ready to put to sea, the great
object of the French marine would be accomplished. This same person
averred, that we wanted no more to face the English, who have not a
greater number of ships fit for engagement; for, added he, we must not
confound the coasting cruizers, and those which are destined for
convoys; they are not comprised among the number of ships of the line.

The English embassador was ordered to keep a watchful eye upon M.
Rouillé and all his operations, in order to acquaint his court
therewith. He no longer asked the administration, as was customary with
him, what we intended to do with so many ships, because he had
frequently had for answer, that the court of France was not obliged to
give Great-Britain an account of what she did.

The king made a promotion of sea officers; commodores were appointed,
captains and old lieutenants were promoted, and there was so much bustle
made about the state of the marine, that the court of London began to
take umbrage at it.

A foreign embassador told me one day upon this occasion, that he
discerned a great error in the French government, that is to say, “that
we make a shew of ourselves to all Europe and our enemies. He added,
there are no secrets of state at Versailles; all Christendom is informed
of the designs of France, long before she is in a condition to execute
them, whereby they are frustrated.”

An affair that no way related to France, excited the attention of the
king for a short time. The Genoese (an unsteady people, and who have
never been in a state of tranquility since the foundation of their
republic) had carried on a war for a long time against the Corsicans,
whom they stiled rebels, whilst the Corsicans gave them the appellation
of tyrants. There had been several engagements between them, which
served only to protract the war, as peace must ever be the result of a
reconciliation of sentiments. Hatred and antipathy had barred all the
avenues to a mediation. Their aversion to each other surpassed their
reciprocal dread. If religion itself had fomented a division, it could
not have been more animated.

Marshal Belleisle, speaking to me of this war, often told me that the
Genoese would never be rulers over the Corsicans; for which he assigned
this reason; “When the principal state combats with its subjects, the
first battle must decide the quarrel, otherwise it will remain for a
long time undetermined. Rebels, who by sieges and battles, poise the
sovereign authority, no longer bear the name of subjects, but adopt that
of enemies; for the force of arms, which destroys all privilege,
restores the level.”

Such people as are in subjection to kings, would no longer be so, if
they were capable of throwing off their submission; for subordination
was not agreed upon by convention, but compelled by violence or open
force. So that a people who throw off the yoke, are not rebels any
farther than their ill conduct in the revolution, and their ignorance to
procure the means of success, give them this title.

The Genoese, after fruitless endeavours to reduce the Corsicans, took a
wrong step in addressing themselves to foreign powers; France, of whom
they had asked succours, furnished them with some troops and a
commander. The Venetian embassador, who was then at Paris, said upon
this occasion; “That the Genoese, who were reckoned to be people of
great memory, had lost their recollection with regard to France, as they
forgot that she bombarded Genoa in the time of Lewis XIV. and that the
republic narrowly escaped from destruction through her, in the reign of
Lewis XV.”

The Genoese officers, whom the senate had appointed and sent to that
island for the defence of their rights, were greater foes to the
republic than they were to the Corsicans, seeking disputes with the
French mediators, under pretence that they excited those islanders to
hold them in contempt. If the allegation had been just, they should have
connived at it, and pursued, without interruption, the restoration of
peace. But envy, that vice so natural to Italians, and particularly the
Genoese, occasioned this dissention. They saw with jealous eyes,
foreigners interfering in a peace, all the honour of which they were
desirous of keeping to themselves. The republic, equally jealous of
their own officers, as these were of the French, took another ill-judged
measure, by making application to the court of Versailles, to know how
they should act against themselves, and what satisfaction the king
required. Any other nation would rather have given up their interest
with respect to Corsica, which even France could not bring back to its
duty, than to have thus humbled themselves: but the republic of Genoa
have been long accustomed to meanness and submission.

“The Genoese, said the King, deserve to be punished, by my interfering
no longer with their affairs: but they have paved the way for my son Don
Philip into Italy, and I owe them some acknowledgment--this predominates
in my heart over the resentment which their conduct deserves.”

Lewis XV. who had appointed M. de Chauvelin plenipotentiary in the
island of Corsica, to terminate matters in an amicable manner, gave him
fresh instructions to hasten his negociation, and new orders were
dispatched to the marquis of Cursai, who commanded the French troops.

These two mediators settled the place for holding a congress, and peace
was in appearance concluded. All formalities were observed: Harangues
were made at the opening of the assemblies, and flowers of rhetoric were
scattered amongst an ignorant and barbarous people. The Corsicans
stretched their large ears to these studied orations, but did not
understand a syllable. They replied with acclamations, and the orators
imagined they had seduced them by their eloquence.

After these speeches, the treaty, or regulation between the Republic and
the Corsicans, was brought upon the carpet. Each party thereby retained
prerogatives which made them independent of each other; that is to say,
the subjects of this republic were treating for their liberty. The
Corsicans terminated by negociation, what they could not accomplish by

When the articles of the treaty were sent to Versailles, Marshal
Belleisle publickly said, “That the Republic had submitted too much:
that they should have granted an amnesty to the rebels, and not have
treated with them: that subjects who have thrown off the yoke, in
returning to their duty, should obtain nothing but pardon. He added,
that the Corsicans should either be punished as guilty of treason, or
else abandoned as rebels; for subjects who are sufficiently powerful to
oblige their sovereign to treat with them, are not faithful enough to
submit long to obedience.”

These reflexions appeared to be the more justly founded, as all these
negotiations soon became useless, and a war was presently after

Be this as it may, the Genoese were for the present left here, the
attention of every one being taken up with news from Asia, which greatly
flattered the king’s expectations. We were informed from India, that the
Nabob had confidence enough in France, to place his political interest
in the hands of a Frenchman, named Dupleix; and that the nation of the
Marats, who were subject to the Nabob, had appointed him their commander
in chief.

It is said that Lewis XIV. who was animated with every kind of glory,
was sensibly struck with the information given him by an embassador from
the king of Siam, who was delegated to acquaint him that his name was
held in great veneration in those states. He testified more public joy,
and was more flattered with this honour, than if he had obtained an
important conquest.

The peace concluded with the Nabob, and the confidence which this prince
reposed in France, were objects of far greater consequence. They
increased the riches of the state, whereas the embassy from Siam had no
other effect than flattering the monarch’s vanity.

Dupleix became at once plenipotentiary and generalissimo; he stipulated
the terms of the treaty of peace, and received the command. These two
posts were preceded by an important negociation, without which he could
never have obtained them; he fixed the unsteady disposition of the
Marats. This nation had been hitherto divided into various factions,
who, in weakening themselves, prevented France deriving any advantage
from them. This foreigner upbraided them with their impolitic conduct,
and taught them to pursue connected views, and an uniform system.

This Dupleix was not, however, any great genius: but there are people
who perform great things with very little capacity. We have since seen
him at Paris fallen from the pinnacle of his fame, and at length give up
his breath with the reputation of a man, who, so far from having been
capable of governing India, had not talents sufficient to regulate his
own houshold affairs.

He had a great law-suit with the India company. This quarrel is equally
remarkable by the nature of the demand, as by that of the refusal. The
Nabob’s general declared, that the directors were indebted to him
several millions, and the directors set forth that they owed him
nothing. There is, in general, ingratitude on the one side, and but
little acknowledgment on the other. The memorials that were published
upon this occasion, produced at least this advantage, they opened the
eyes of the government with respect to many things relative to India,
which they would never have been acquainted with, had not these
publications taken place.

I made business, pleasure, and amusements, by turns succeed at
Versailles, which still prevented the king’s serious reflexions. Lewis
XV. existed, I may say, by a constitution which I communicated to him,
and this factitious temperament hindered his own prevailing. I believe
he would have been at length overcome without that art which I employed
to repress nature. Notwithstanding this precaution, there were moments
in which he gave himself up to melancholy. It was then necessary to
invent new pleasures, in order to excite fresh sensations. As soon as I
perceived these produced no effect, I redoubled my attention to
substitute others that might be more prevalent.

Religion was the greatest obstacle I had to surmount, for the King was
very devout. He prayed regularly, and went every day to mass, but did
not perform his Easter-devotions. This estrangement from the sacraments
arose rather from an excess of delicacy, than a contempt for the
communion. His transitory amours separated him from the sacrament, which
he feared to prophane. The jesuit who enjoyed the title of his
confessor, had made various attempts to conquer his delicacy upon this
head. His power would then have been more extensive, as his penitent
would have been more at his devotion; but Lewis XV. never submitted.

I was judged a proper instrument to hint something to the monarch upon
this subject; but it was necessary that I should begin by convincing
myself, in order to persuade the King. This was thought an easy matter;
people of the first rank, and of considerable dignity in the church, but
who shall not be named here, fearing that the Roman catholic religion
might appear to lose ground to the enemies of the state, undertook this
great work.

I was not much versed in this kind of matters; for the women of Paris
have no more religion than what is just necessary to prevent their
having none at all.

These able theologists settled it as a principle, “That scandal in a
king was the greatest evil he could be guilty of: that he is the
mirrour, where every one looks to see himself: that his example carries
with it that of the state: that from the time the King did not commune,
there were upwards of a million of subjects in France, who no longer
partook of the sacraments: that the desertion from the holy table was
become general,” &c. &c.

Then speaking of constitutions, they added, “That God had given power to
his ministers to absolve past sins; that repentance effaced in heaven
crimes committed upon earth: that the Divinity, in forming man, had been
obliged to give way to his weaknesses: that we should always fulfil our
christian obligations, notwithstanding the continual temptations with
which the heart of man is surrounded,” &c. &c.

In a word, I saw through these maxims of the fathers of the church, that
the King, in order to be a good catholic, should be regularly guilty of
profanation of the sacrament once a year.

I refused taking upon myself this moral commission. I had a glimpse of
those consequences which might have affected myself. This prince’s
approaching the communion table, must necessarily have caused a
revolution in him. I was under less apprehension for the King’s
religion, than the intrigues of churchmen. The confessor was
particularly to be dreaded. He is always powerful, when the monarch is
frequently at his feet.

Neither did I advise the King to absent himself from the holy table. I
left things just as they were.

Peace, which had restored political tranquility, of itself produced
fresh divisions in the state. Churchmen, the clergy, and the parliament,
who in time of war, unite themselves to the administration, to
participate of public misfortunes, in their turn create them, when
battles and sieges are passed: so that by a fatality, which is, perhaps,
derived from the constitution itself, France must always be armed to
avoid domestic quarrels; or continually wage war with herself, to
prevent that of the enemy. I have heard very able politicians say, that
this arises from the government’s not being sufficiently powerful to
suppress divisions abroad, nor sufficiently absolute to destroy
dissentions at home: a mixed state that will one day make it a prey to
its enemies, or a victim to its subjects.

A trifling affair gave rise to a great misunderstanding between the
court and the parliament, which was the distribution of the alms
collected for the mendicants. The directors of the hospital of Paris had
never yet been blamed by either the court or the city, because the war
had engaged the attention of the government; but peace being restored,
which gave them leisure to inspect into the minutest affairs, they at
length took this into consideration.

The archbishop of Paris claimed this jurisdiction by right; the King was
of the same opinion; but the parliament judged differently, and
henceforward representations and deputations took place. A Prince of
the blood royal said upon this occasion, _The parliament of Paris must
have very little to do, when they quarrel with the King about beggars_.

Lewis XV. issued an arret in favour of the archbishop; it was to be
registered, and now dissention broke out. The parliament went to
Versailles and came back--they met, they adjourned; but the King shewed
himself absolute. He wrote in these terms to the chambers assembled. “If
I have thought proper to allow you to make remonstrances to me upon the
edicts and declarations which I send you to be registered, I never gave
you the power to annul or alter them, under pretence of
modification.--It is my will that my declaration concerning the hospital
be registered purely and simply. I shall see that my parliament obey my

This was speaking like a master: the King was animated at certain
moments support all his rights; but the goodness of his heart, his love
of peace, and the tranquility of the state, and perhaps more than all,
an undetermined character, discouraged by difficulties and opposition,
made him yield.

I often complained to him of this disposition, which induced him to
grant what he had at first refused. “What would you have me do, madam?”
he said to me with that complaisance and sweetness which are so natural
to him. “I know I should harden myself against certain bodies, who want
to raise their authority upon a level with my throne. But I sacrifice my
resentment to the general tranquility. I tremble to think of the
misfortunes that the people suffered under the reign of my great
grandfather, by the quarrels which arose between the court and the
parliament. These quarrels renewed civil wars, which immersed France in
the deepest desolation. I would rather be complaisant than
ostentatious, as the consequences of the latter might be fatal to my

The majority of the members of the council were not of this way of
thinking; one of the most penetrating said, that under a firm and
absolute government, the laws were restored to their vigour, and abuses
reformed; whereas indulgence and relaxation were the effects of a weak
and irresolute administration. I acknowledge that I differ much in
opinion from this last, and I could have wished that the King had
possessed a little more resolution. The affair relating to the hospital
terminated, like most of those of the parliament, that is to say, by

The King of his own accord, and without being sollicited, appointed the
count de St. Florentin and M. Rouillé ministers of state: They were each
of them secretaries of state. A courtier at that time said, that the
King had done a great deal in appointing them his secretaries, and that
he had done too much in creating them ministers. It is certain that
these two men had done nothing to entitle them to that rank. M. Rouillé,
in particular, was far from being bright, having no other recommendation
than his assiduity and application, which most constantly destroy every
thing, when they are not accompanied with genius.

It was said at Paris that I induced the King to make this nomination.
The truth is, that I no way interfered in it: Nay, it was added, that M.
de St. Florentin had sold himself to me, and that I paid him for the
letters de cachet which I had occasion for to drive such persons from
Paris as displeased me. Those who spoke in this manner were ignorant
that the great letters de cachet were not issued but in the name and by
the consent of the King. The sovereign commands and the minister obeys.

I had very little acquaintance with this secretary of state; he paid his
court to me like the other ministers; but he seldom spoke to me about
private affairs. I found him at court, the King employed him, and this
sufficed me.

M. Rouillé had been recommended to me. I mentioned him to the King. I
recommended him to this Prince, not as a great minister, but as an
honest man.

M. de Puisieux, secretary of state for the department of foreign
affairs, begged leave to retire. This office was difficult to manage;
several persons had refused it. Those who had before filled this
employment, had sown disorder in this department, and the last troubles
of Europe had compleated its confusion. France was not in a situation to
hope that the last treaty of peace could long subsist, and in time of
war there was more business in this department than in all the others.
One minister is scarce sufficient when every thing is in order, but when
every thing is in confusion, before sieges and battles take place, it is
impossible for him to go on.

I very seldom saw M. de Puisieux. Those who were personally acquainted
with this minister, have told me that he had knowledge and
understanding; but that he was deficient in that superiority of genius
which characterizes a statesman. He had gone through the negociations
for which he was appointed with such middling talents, as never confer
any future reputation. He may be ranked with those common ministers, who
after having compleated their career in this world, never enter upon any
in history.

After the retreat of M. de Puisieux, the King said to me: “_Well, madam,
to whom shall we give the department of foreign affairs?_” And without
giving me time to reply, he added, _This office requires an able
minister, a man of assiduity and integrity. Do you know of such a one in
my kingdom?_

“Sire, I replied, what you require is pretty difficult to be found; but
some of your subjects may possess all these qualities; and amongst this
number, I may venture to presume, that the marquis de Sr. Contest, your
embassador at the Hague, deserves a distinguished rank.” _I am of your
opinion_, the King immediately said; _M. Contest has already done me
such services, as have entitled him to this place: I will give it to
him_; and the embassador immediately left the Hague, to come and take
upon him this office.

I shall in this place mention an establishment which I planned, and to
which the King gave his assistance, in order to put it in execution:
This will appear but a trifling affair to those who estimate
establishments in proportion as they are striking. I prevailed upon
Lewis XV. to change the object of the expence made for public
rejoicings, by applying it to the increase of the human species, which
luxury and debauchery constantly diminish in France. His Majesty gave
orders in consequence, that 600,000 livres, which were to be expended
for fireworks, on account of the birth of the duke of Burgundy, should
be divided into portions amongst a certain number of young women, to be
married in the capital. It was then intended that the same orders should
be sent into the provinces. The population of Paris is but the sixteenth
part of that of the whole monarchy; so that, if all the other parts of
France had followed the same example set them by the metropolis,
population would have been considerably increased in France.

M. de Belleisle, who made all the calculations, averred that these
marriages would furnish near 20,000 citizens annually to the monarchy:
thus do small things promote great ones, and one single additional turn
in the finances contribute to aggrandize a state. No one suspected that
I had framed this establishment, any more than several others which I
created for the advantage of France, and from which many persons who had
no hand in them, derived honour to themselves; whilst I was reproached
with others that were detrimental to the government, and of which I was
entirely ignorant.

The sweets of peace began to be relished, when the first sparks of the
torch of war were perceived from a distance. The duke of Mirepoix
complained to the court of London of some grievances with which the
French reproached the English, and the English embassador at Paris
remonstrated against the conduct of the French with respect to the
English. They wanted to make infractions upon the treaty of peace, but
they did not know where to begin. The time for fighting was not yet
come; battles by sea and land, that were to create great revolutions,
were anticipated by preparations on both sides.

The birth of the duke of Burgundy came in time to divert the occupations
of the court. The disorder in the administration, the difficulty of
finding able ministers, the confusion in the state of the finances, the
misery of the people, the obstinacy of the clergy, the perverseness of
the parliament, and the behaviour of the English, who threatened war in
time of peace; these all united to interrupt the King’s tranquility. He,
however, yielded for some time to the pleasure of seeing his crown
secured to his house. Kings are more sensible of this kind of joy than
is imagined. They fancy, that in their descendants they see their reign
perpetuated; it seems to them as if they did not die, if when they go to
the grave, they have an heir in whose hands they can place the scepter.
The rejoicings of the people, which the King was made acquainted with,
increased his felicity. The Parisians, who make a point of loving their
sovereign, surpassed themselves, in their demonstrations of joy.

There were great festivals at court. All the foreign ministers strove to
be first in complimenting Lewis XV. who congratulated himself upon this
birth. I never saw him so happy. This was the only period of his life,
whilst I remained at Versailles, that I found him completely joyful: I
also felt at this instant a sensible pleasure, to see the King so happy.
His usual gaiety was much increased, and of longer duration. Our
interviews were more tender, and our conversation more lively and

This epocha made me reflect upon the few resources which the human heart
has within itself to be happy. Favourable combinations of nature or
fortune are necessary to draw it from that state of languor, in which it
is almost constantly immersed: and this fatal law must surely be
general, when even kings are not exempt from it. But there is a still
greater misfortune attendant on humanity, which is, that pleasure is
almost constantly counterbalanced by pain. One might say, that in the
human heart there are two equal measures of joy and misery, and in
proportion as the one is emptied the other is filled.

State affairs, and advices from foreign courts, soon overcast the court
with serious looks, and the King lost his gaiety, and became more
melancholy than ever.

Every time there was any important post to fill, or any considerable
employment to be given away, the courtiers greatly increased their
complaisance towards me. I had a constant train of solicitors. The
Marquis de St. Contest having entered upon the post of secretary of
state for foreign affairs, the embassy in Holland was vacant. M. de
Bonac was mentioned to me in a favourable manner. I had but very little
knowledge of him; I acquainted myself with his talents for negociation,
and in consequence of the picture that was drawn to me of him, I
interested myself in his favour. I spoke of him to the King, who
appointed him his embassador to the States General. As many courtiers
interceded for the place, I made myself as many enemies as were refused
it. The King’s service and that of the state determined me in favour of
M. de Bonac, who, it was said, had the necessary qualifications to do
honour to his country.

The Prince of Soubise said, that of all the embassies in Europe, that of
the Seven Provinces was the most difficult, as, in all the other courts,
negociations are carried on with princes of a generous turn of mind, who
often lose sight of their own advantages; whereas in Holland, the
minister treats with merchants, who have their interest constantly in
view. He added, that Holland is so situated, that in the wars between
France and England, it may derive advantages from the one, and
contribute to the other. Wherefore those who treat with the Dutch should
have a great share of address, to make them declare when their succours
are necessary; and they should have great abilities to keep them in an
exact neutrality, when their arms may be prejudicial, &c.

I do not know whether M. de Bonac possessed all these qualities; for
every thing is disguised at court, and people are not known till such
time as they have been tried, and it is then too late to form a judgment
that can be advantageous. M. de Bonac was an officer; this circumstance
alone made me for some time hesitate upon the choice I proposed making.
I never had any great faith in negociations carried on by military men.
They are a kind of people that seldom have a turn of mind, and that
pliant disposition necessary to succeed at foreign courts: but this is
the age of warlike ministers. Lewis XV. has employed no others during
his whole reign: and this, perhaps, is one of the reasons, why our
affairs at foreign courts have not succeeded so well as we might have

Those churchmen who make vows of poverty, but who are more covetous of
riches than laymen, were also very assiduous in paying their court to
me. The number of these that attended me, increased in proportion as
abbeys and bishopricks became vacant.

There were many candidates for the abbey of Auchin, but the King
disposed of it in favour of Cardinal York, brother to the Pretender, who
by enjoying this benefice, with the possession of several others, was
richer than the real possessor of the duchy of York. This opulence,
which in England the King’s sons and brothers do not enjoy, made a
courtier say upon this occasion, that it was very lucky for Cardinal
York, that the house of Stuart had been dispossessed of the throne of
Great-Britain; for without this accident, he would have been only a poor
English citizen, instead of a rich Roman prince.

People, however, complained of the King’s not having given this benefice
to a Frenchman, who would have expended the revenue of it in the
kingdom, instead of its being carried into Italy, which was now the
case by this nomination. But those who reason in this manner did not
know that kings who waged war against reigning families, gave alms to
those families whose reign was expired. Moreover France had obligations
to this unfortunate house. In the wars which France carried on, the
Pretender was brought upon the carpet, and sent off, in the same manner
as an actor is upon the stage.

In politics, those who perform a part must be paid; and I believe I have
said in another place, that France never seriously thought of placing
the Pretender on the throne of England.

M. de Machault, keeper of the seals and comptroller general, who
laboured to re-establish the finances, succeeded therein but slowly. The
King, who had an estimate of the national debts laid before him every
month, found them always in the same situation. The financiers
engrossed all the money of the state, which made M. de Machault say to
the King, _Sire, I see but one method of bringing the money back into
the treasury, which is to tax hôtel des fermes, or office of the farms_.

This proposal of the minister agreed perfectly well with an anonymous
memorial, which was dedicated to me at Versailles, and which I had read
to the King: it was conceived in these terms.

“The actual riches of the state consist of about eleven hundred millions
of specie. This sum, in order to animate the whole body politic, should
every where circulate geometrically. But this proportion is far from
being settled in France, where it may be demonstratively proved, that
two hundred individuals possess half the coin of the kingdom. These
individuals are the financiers: their cash is that of the state: it
contains the fortunes of all the citizens. Riches are daily buried in
their coffers, as in a gulf. The crown, by yielding to a company the
duties upon the entry of goods, never intended to subscribe to the ruin
of the state. It granted the power of collecting those imposts to
clerks, who by their activity and industry ought to enrich the state,
and not impoverish it. This was the institution of farms; and inasmuch
as they have swerved from this plan, they are become a monopoly of the
company. The King has a right to reform abuses; and every contract that
includes a grievance is of itself void.

“It is not proposed to correct past errors, but to remove present evils.
If an attempt is never made, success cannot be expected. In dangerous
disorders violent remedies are necessary. There is but one method of
restoring the course of general circulation, which the monopoly of the
company has interrupted. This is the establishment of an ardent chamber,
wherein the financiers should give an account of their management of the
farms, and which should enquire into the title whereby they are in
possession of such immense riches, in order to transfer them for the
benefit of the crown, as soon as the grievance and the monopoly shall be

“To prevent the outcries of avarice, and the sordid love of pelf,
against this regulation, two incontestible principles must previously be
laid down.

“1. That the great profits of royal companies, when excessive, no longer
bear that name, but come under the denomination of monopolies, being
contrary to the intentions of the prince, who neither could nor would
divest himself of great advantages upon any consideration whatever.

“2. That a King is always a minor, in regard to any grievance in the
general finances: and that he is authorized by all the fundamental laws
to annul a contract that is pernicious to the state and his people.

“That to proceed legally against the financiers, the ardent chamber
should nominate commissaries to examine the books of the
farmers-general. After having made an abstract thereof, they should
report the monopolies used to accumulate these great riches, of which
the company is possessed.

“From thence they should have recourse to the annual sub-divisions, in
order to pursue the necessary clue, and ascertain the real state of
their accounts.

“This operation being compleated, all the farmers-general should be
summoned, one after another, before the tribunal of the ardent chamber,
to give an account of the sum which they must have appropriated to
themselves, according to the intelligence obtained.

“They should be directed to restore it all, except six per cent. which
should be granted them as interest for their advanced money.

“In case of disobedience, they should be confined and kept in prison,
until they had made entire restitution of the whole sum, without
deducting any interest.

“The chief clerks, such as directors, registers, comptrollers, &c.
should be subpœned before the ardent chamber, and obliged to make
restitution, in the same manner as the farmers-general.

“None should be exempted, but such only as received nothing but wages of
the company, &c. &c.

“According to a calculation made hereupon, 300,000,000, will return into
the royal treasury, without imposing any tax upon the people.

“The establishing of an ardent chamber to compel the farmers to produce
their accounts, is not (according to this memorial) an infraction of the
rights of the people, nor a breach of civil liberty. Fouquet,
intendant-general of the finances, in the former reign, was by a private
commission adjudged to be divested of those immense sums, which he had
accumulated by monopolies,” &c. &c.

This memorial was not put in execution, any more than the greater part
of those plans which have since appeared for the re-establishment of the
finances. Much has been said in France of demolishing the farmers
general; but when this scheme is to be executed no one dare assist,
because those people have a great deal of money, and every body stands
in need of them. I one day asked Marshal Saxe, who was very intimate
with La Poupeliniere, what engaging qualities this farmer-general
possessed, that could so much attract the Marshal. _Madam_, said he, _he
has one that to me is excellent; for when I have occasion for a hundred
thousand livres, I find them in his coffer; whereas when I apply to the
comptroller-general, he constantly tells me he has no money_.

A prince of the blood said, that these people were beneficial, for the
very reason that they appeared pernicious: for that since they were
appointed, it is known where the riches of the state lie, whereas before
no one knew where they were deposited.

The farmers-general got information of the memorial drawn up against the
company, and another was penned to refute it. But this consisted of
nothing but mere words. It chiefly displayed the utility of the company,
who could instantaneously furnish considerable sums to the government in
pressing exigencies: but the memorial took no notice that this money
belonged to the state, and that the farmers are nothing more than agents
to advance it, the money being raised upon the people.

M. de Belleisle, who read this answer, said to me, “These people, among
whom there are many persons of sense, are so prejudiced in favour of
their interest, that they are always extravagant when they are upon the
subject of the finances. There is a capital error in the contract of the
farms, which is, that it puts too much money into the pockets of a few

I have often at Versailles met with advocates who pleaded the cause of
the farmers-general: but I never met with any judges that were
favourable to them.

In the midst of domestic affairs, which occupied the administration and
afflicted the King, a thousand different people eagerly endeavoured to
present memorials to me for promoting arts, and increasing
manufactures. I was unacquainted with the particulars upon which they
turned; I desired the minister, who was sometimes busy with the King, to
acquaint me with the advantages which the state derived from the
prodigious number of manufactures established in France.

“This, madam, (said this statesman) is a matter that would take great
time to impart to you: it would be necessary to recur to the age of
Lewis XIV. in which he made many alterations in France, and who was
called Great, because he struck home great strokes.

“This Prince, who possessed every kind of ambition, was not devoid of
that of multiplying manufactures. Colbert his minister completely backed
his designs; he passed his life in establishing trades as well as
increasing arts; and as he had occasion for a great number of workmen to
accomplish his design, he sent for five hundred thousand husbandmen
from the country to promote the industry of cities. From that time such
lands as were in want of hands remained uncultivated. This minister did
not consider, that to increase the form he should multiply the matter.
This the King over-looked also. Lewis XIV. was entirely taken up with
the thirst of dominion, and this passion favoured those of all his
ministers, who were desirous of sharing this ambition with him.

“The kingdom was filled with handicraftsmen; great luxury, the necessary
consequence, took place, and from that time France, whose happy climate
should make it superior, in point of riches, to all the other states of
Europe, was impoverished.

“Nevertheless, the minister, who has since followed the plan of M.
Colbert, has continued multiplying the arts, at the expence of the
produce of agriculture.

“This policy is supported by a reason, which is, that this industry lays
all the states of Europe under contribution; but France does not see
that she begins by taxing herself, in diminishing the produce of her
first substance: a disadvantage that immediately affects the power of
the state, as it stops the progress of population.”

M. de Belleisle was not of this opinion: he imagined that industry could
supply every thing, even the deficiencies of production; for according
to him the riches of a state depend upon its circulation; and he said
that arts made money circulate better than agriculture: but he was
mistaken. Eminent œconomists have since demonstrated to me that the
productions of the earth create real riches, whereas those formed by
industry are only fictitious. Be this as it may, I determined to
protect arts, and in order to encourage manufactures, I furnished the
necessary funds to bring some into esteem.

Though the King’s habitual disposition to visit me, made all France
consider this inclination as his determined taste; the women constantly
preserved a secret desire of supplanting me in the heart of this Prince.
Lewis XV. always met with some in ambuscade. He could not go up or down
stairs in his way to his own apartment, without meeting a beauty. The
women of Paris, who are seldom in love with any thing but the opera or
the play house, became enamoured with Versailles. They visited this
place pretty regularly.

The custom which Lewis XIV. established of being applied to in person,
when any favour was to be asked at court, and which was almost abolished
since the death of this Prince, now revived. Many fair suiteresses
addressed themselves to Lewis XV. Their eyes petitioned more than their
memorials. Lewis yielded to their solicitations, and often gave them
what they asked. He acquainted me with all these accidental intrigues,
and this confidence enabled me to support them. I should have considered
my influence as in its wane, if he had concealed them from me. I have
said in another place, that unable to fix the constitution of this
Prince, I was compelled to give him up to his inclination. His
infidelity did not diminish the ascendency I had over him. I reigned at
Versailles, in the midst of those very causes which ought to have
subdued my empire. By a contradiction inherent in the human heart, his
inconstancy made him constant to me. Remorse drove him fresh to my arms,
which he only quitted to yield again to love and repentance.

What secured him to me, was, that of all the women, whom I knew he saw,
there was not one, who was possessed of such qualities as were necessary
to wrest him from me. Most of them had beauty; but they were wanting in
those mental engagements, without which the charms of the face are of no
effect. They all wanted to rule at court, to dispose of the first
employments in the state, to acquire the Prince’s favour; and the only
means they used to obtain those ends, was to prostitute themselves to
him; which was an infallible method of not succeeding.

A new object drew the attention of the court. This was to secure the
tranquility of Italy--a boisterous country, where the first clouds of
war always gather. All the treaties which have been concluded between
sovereigns since Charlemain, could never give it stability, because it
is the most happy continent upon earth, and the most feeble country in

Marshal Saxe said before he died, that if France could give a permanent
peace to Italy, her population would become more flourishing. This
general had demonstrated, that for two centuries more Frenchmen had
perished in Italy, than all the other wars had carried off in the rest
of Europe.

I have since been told by another general, that the soldiers do not fall
there by cannon. They perish there by heat and voluptuousness; enemies
by far more dangerous than the indefatigable labours of the North.

Lewis XV. found an advantage in this plan of pacification. He thereby
secured the Dukes of Savoy, ever ready to introduce German troops into
Italy, and to make incursions themselves into Dauphiny, upon the first
misunderstanding that takes place in Europe. Naples, Parma, and
Placentia, under the government of princes of the house of Bourbon,
would have enjoyed a lasting tranquility, but this negotiation produced
no effect.

Marshal Belleisle said to the King upon opening the conferences: “Sire,
we may enter upon the plan of giving a lasting peace to Italy; but I
apprise your Majesty, that the negociation will not terminate but at the
end of the world.”

The Prince of Conti said upon this occasion, “That if a king of France
were willing to prevent a war in Italy, the Italians would oppose him.
This country, which with regard to money, is of itself poor, stands in
need of foreign armies, whose military chests may supply their want of
cash.” The same thing has been said of Germany.

The King received a state of his naval force, according to which it
consisted of fifty ships of the line and twenty frigates. I remember
that a sensible man then said, that we had a navy, and wanted nothing
but sailors--that is to say, we had half the necessary ingredients for
forming a fleet. It was to procure this other half, which proved so
useless some time after to France, that M. Rouillé was so assiduous.

The Count of Maurepas said, in his distant exile, “I know my
successor--he will do so much, that he will at last destroy the French

Those who decide at court the fate of the administrations of important
departments, imagine that the province of the marine does not depend
upon the minister who is at the head of it; that there are primary
causes which counteract its progress. They are of opinion that France is
formed to direct affairs by land; and England those that relate to the

A statesman told me, nevertheless, one day at Versailles, that it was
not impossible for France to have a marine; but to do this the system of
the state must be changed, and the monarchy entirely subverted.

The minister assured Lewis XV. that besides this fleet, there was
another upon the stocks, ready to be launched and put to sea.

The people, who ought always to be imposed upon by preparations, were
satisfied with what was doing in the marine; but politicians and those
who calculated the resources of England were dissatisfied.

At the time that we were endeavouring at the means of navigation, a
projector presented a scheme to the King, for rendering France
navigable. The object was the junction of two seas, by the means of two
rivers. This man at first applied to me, and I sent him to M. Belleisle,
who thought this project of great utility to the state. But several
politicians were of a different opinion. They said that this junction
would lessen the navigation, which should on the contrary be encreased.
The English were quoted, who might easily shorten the course of their
sea voyages, and who endeavoured to prolong them. But what may be
judicious in this respect for Great Britain, might be very impolitic for

I mention these particular transactions, because they fell immediately
under my notice, and the King did me the honour to consult me upon them.
I shall pass over in silence such schemes as were offered to the
administration during my residence at court, and which did not take

When the King acquainted me with the death of the duke of Orleans, who
died the fourth of July 1752, he seemed greatly affected at it. Sudden
deaths made a great impression upon Lewis XV. Philip of Orleans finished
his career at that age when most men begin theirs. This prince was a
striking example of the contrast there often is in the characters of a
father and a son.

This Prince had nothing of the Regent’s disposition. He had passed his
time in praying and bestowing alms. Each day of his life was
distinguished by some christian act. Brought up in the center of
pleasures, he shunned them at an age when the passions strongly plead
for gratification, and when it is very difficult to resist their

The curate of St. Sulpice said, that if he had been Pope, he would have
canonized the Duke of Orleans, had he possessed no other virtue than
having resisted the example of the royal palace. We well knew that the
Regent’s house was not the model for christian virtues. The Cardinal du
Bois, who ridiculed men, politics and religion, made it the residence of
vice and debauchery.

But the Duke of Orleans, who is the subject of our present
consideration, possessed none but those virtues which do honour in
heaven, and not those which characterize great princes upon earth. His
house, which he had divested of all regal magnificence, resembled a
convent, of which he was the superior. He supported by charity an
infinite number of people, who having no other care than that of
receiving it, lived in idleness and effeminacy. His bigotry had made him
retire from public affairs, and induced him to let the state take care
of itself, at a time that it stood in the most need of assistance.

It is well known that the Princes of the blood who have a watchful eye
over the government, keep the ministers in awe, and prevent their being
guilty of malversation. Such is the fate of the French monarchy, that
the great in France either give themselves up to debauchery, or turn

The death of Madame Henriette, which succeeded that of the Duke of
Orleans, filled the court with mourning, and the King’s heart with
sorrow. This Princess was endued with those qualities which endear the
great: naturally gentle and affable, she was beloved by all that
approached her. A good heart, and a compassionate sympathetic soul,
formed her general character; the Parisians did not sufficiently lament
her loss: they have no affection but for their Kings; they have none
remaining for the royal family.

A foreigner, who was acquainted with the genius of our nation, said to
me; “If France were deprived of the Dauphin, before he mounted the
throne, no one would regret his loss; but that if he died six months
after having wore the crown, all the world would weep for him. He added,
that it was not the loss of the person, but the name of King that was
regretted in France.”

By the death of Madame Henriette, I discovered in Lewis XV. the
qualities of a good father. Tears streamed from his eyes, and his
melancholy surpassed his usual hypocondriac disposition. I exerted all
my abilities to asswage his grief: but he paid all the rights that
nature could extort, before they took effect.

Literature once more disturbed the King and the court. The council was
informed that a large work was printing at Paris, under the title of the
Encyclopedia. This was a rhapsody compiled from all the dictionaries
extant, to which was added, by the compilers, reflexions of a suspicious
tendency on religion and politics. This heap of reasoning conveyed no
instruction how to think, but only taught how to doubt. A man of letters
said to me at that time, the Encyclopedia could only increase the
number of ignoramus’s, and warp the minds of men of learning.

Such writings as tended to support materialism, made an impression at
court, and this production was ranked in this predicament. The King
commanded the two first volumes of this production to be suppressed. The
same arret which prohibited them, condemned the publishers of them to
pay a considerable fine.

This suppression gave birth to an anonymous memorial upon this subject,
which appeared to me very sensible, and which was conceived in these

“The government has established a tribunal to examine the productions of
the mind. It consists of a minister and twenty-four royal censors, whose
sole employment is to revise manuscripts destined for the press.

“A book that is submitted to the examination of this tribunal, is under
the protection of the government. The author has done all that the laws
required of him. He is not answerable for the effects that the
publication of his book may produce. This literary minister should be
its voucher, and liable to such penalties as the author would incur, if
he had printed it in a clandestine manner. It nevertheless, daily
happens, that a book meets with the approbation of this tribunal, and is
often censured by the government. The writer is prosecuted--he is
punished in such a manner, as if it had been concealed from this
jurisdiction. The parliament takes cognizance of it, the book is burnt,
and the author sent to the Bastile. What could be done more, if he had
acted in defiance of the ordonnances made upon this subject?

“There is an error in literary jurisdiction, which will always occasion
grievances and divisions in the republic of letters. The minister who
presides at this tribunal, has neither the capacity nor leisure to
peruse all the MSS. that are presented for the press: they are put into
the hands of censors, who have neither more time nor more genius than

“They are frequently upon abstracted subjects, and above the capacity of
both--then the censors read them without comprehending them, and sign
them without understanding them. Their approbation being thus obtained,
the work is accordingly printed, the book appears, and the prosecution
begins just where it should end.

“The inconvenience that resulted from it would be of no great
importance, if the sentence pronounced against the author put an end to
the dispute; but it almost constantly happens, that the public interest
themselves in the contest. The erroneous maxims it contains are
credited; the more they are condemned, the more the book comes into
vogue. Its suppression is of no effect, the editions increase in
proportion as they are prohibited: for it is only necessary to censure a
book in order to raise its reputation. Many works that would have been
despised had they passed unnoticed, have acquired importance from the
government’s condemning them.

“Hence those various divisions that have immersed the state into greater
misfortunes than have been produced by civil wars.

“Instead of chastising the author that has written a dangerous book, the
minister who allowed it to be printed, should be punished. The first
submitted his performance to the established police for preventing the
publication of dangerous works, and the other published it. The first
only injured himself, the other injured the state,” &c. &c.

The King had this memorial examined, the reasoning it contained was
thought to be just; but it only met with approbation, like an infinite
number of others upon the different branches of the administration, the
utility of which is acknowledged, but they are, notwithstanding, never

I have observed during my residence at Versailles, that the schemes
which succeed are not those that are the most advantageous, but those
which are the best recommended.

I have since learned from a man of great discernment, that “so much
rigour on the part of the government with respect to literary
productions, would be attended with many inconveniences; that printing
in France is become a very extensive manufacture, which promotes an
infinite number of others dependent on it, and which excite industry;
that it comprehends a very important branch of trade, the suppression
whereof would greatly cramp circulation; that by diminishing this
profession, many others must be abolished, that tend to form the
library: that France would be thereby a great sufferer, and neighbouring
states reap advantages from it; that Holland, in particular, covetous of
all industrious vocations, would seize upon this.

“He added, that Cardinal Fleury having suppressed the printing of
romances in France, the United Provinces availed themselves of this
prohibition, to encrease their workmen. The number of their presses was
greatly augmented, and the kingdom overflowed with these very prohibited
romances; so that by this suppression, the state lost its industry
without abolishing romances.”

Though the King constantly visited me, he conversed with other women.
But his visits to them were, as has been already said, merely casual.
These women, who had neither taste nor delicacy, were gratified with
those moments that he could bestow upon them, and thought themselves
happy to pass a few hours by stealth with this Prince. They had no
regular plan, except two or three, who formed the design of supplanting
me, and seizing upon the King’s favour. The pleasure of having the King
for a lover sufficed them. This idea, which occupied all the powers of
their soul, left no room for ambition; so that they were not very
dangerous rivals. I knew the King’s temper; enjoyment always disgusted
him. The act of gratification was followed by contempt: this is what
every woman must expect, who has no other attractions for men than mere
personal possession.

The disputes of the clergy, which were renewed, notwithstanding the
assiduity of the court to suppress them, kept the state in a constant
ferment. All the prelates who disturbed the court, owed their fortune to
the King; and this the more afflicted him. Lewis XV. has often said to
me, that of all vices ingratitude the most shocked him.

It happened in this dispute, as it does in most others, that it was not
confined to the first object. The original point in debate was, a sum
demanded of the clergy, to supply the exigencies of the state: the
minister carried his views farther; he reflected upon the disorders
occasioned by this body to the finances of the state; a calculation was
made that a very considerable sum went out of the kingdom every age for
purchasing of bulls, and that this treasure of the political
government, which was sent into Italy, never returned back to France:
that Rome, to whom we paid large sums, granted nothing in return but
indulgences. The means of withdrawing from this spiritual dominion,
which ruined the temporal state, came next under consideration. But
after every thing was thoroughly examined, supputed, and calculated,
things were left just in the same situation as they were found.

The Chevalier de Belleisle formerly told me, “that the process between
the court of Rome and that of Versailles had continued for several ages,
and that it would not be terminated till such time as a King of France
arose equally enterprising with Henry VIII. of England. He added, that
the ministry had hit upon the wrong object of power to destroy; that we
had wrested the sword of excommunication from Rome, but that we had
left her in full power to fleece the state; and that we had better let
ourselves be excommunicated than reduced to poverty.”

The general body of the clergy incessantly engaged the attention of the
court: one of their members disturbed a-new the King’s repose, and
troubled the state. The archbishop of Paris forbad the administration of
the sacraments to a certain abbé, who was ill and desired it. The sick
abbé was required to name his confessor, and as he was known to be a
Jansenist, he was asked to accept of the constitution. I have already
mentioned this constitution, and the disputes it occasioned in the
government. The abbé obstinately refused accepting of it, and the
archbishop resolved that the sacraments should not be administered to

Lewis XV. was informed of this debate, the example whereof might be
productive of a schism in the kingdom. I was witness to his grief; his
uneasiness arose from his affection. He loved his subjects, and he was
chagrined to see that the disputes of schools should deprive them of the
only remaining consolation upon their death-beds. The Princes of the
house of Bourbon have always acted more reasonably in religious than in
political matters.

The bull Unigenitus put Lewis XIV. to death; some old courtiers have, at
least, assured me, that father Le Tellier shortened his days by dint of
talking to him of the constitution. The refusal of the sacraments was
cognizable by the general police; so that this schism in the spiritual
government was attended with a double inconvenience, as it might produce
one in the political state.

The parliament of Paris, who seize upon every occasion to reform abuses,
and let none escape that may extend their prerogatives; summoned the
curate, who had been guilty of no other crime than that of obeying his
bishop. A penalty was inflicted on him which the prelate should have
been mulcted, and he was forbid relapsing on pain of losing his
temporalities. The chief point was to know whether the curate should
obey the parliament or his bishop. The case would not have been
difficult to determine, if the clergy had been appointed judges, or if
the government had been to decide: but the question was who was the
competent judge in this case? If the church were permitted to decide the
affair, this would be infringing upon temporal rights; and by allowing
the parliament this prerogative, spiritual privileges would thereby be
usurped. There was a third inconvenience still greater, which was, that
the King himself, according to the opinion of the clergy, was incapable
of appointing judges.

In this sort of disputes, a national council should be convened; this
council is never held, and the disorder always continues. The King
commanded the parliament not to interfere in the matter, and the
parliament determined that they ought to interfere therein. Louis XV.
had displayed sufficient resolution in the last misunderstanding about
the administration of the hospital; but this body always forget that
they yielded, that they may remember to be stedfast. The King undertook
to have the sacraments administered to the sick man; but this method had
its inconveniences, for it was necessary to command priests, and they
obeyed none but their bishops.

The parliament would have thought that they had given up their rights,
if, upon this occasion, they had not opposed the will of their
sovereign. They commanded by arret the curates, whom Louis XV. only
wanted to engage to fulfil their duty. Without this decree the affair
would have been immediately stifled, whereas many other priests were
hereby disposed to refuse the administration of the sacraments.

I have often heard it said at Versailles, “that the body of the
parliament, by reason of their desire to reform abuses, are the source
of a great number of abuses.” A prince of the blood was of opinion, that
the parliament should be abolished, if it were only to prevent that
spirit of contention and obstinacy which they disperse in the kingdom.
But those who are esteemed sagacious judges of things, pretend that this
same spirit of opposition to the will of the court, is the bulwark of
the state.

A councilor of the great chamber said one day in my hearing, to a
courtier who was highly complaining of the reiterated remonstrances made
to the King, _Perhaps, Sir, we may be mistaken in the form; but we
cannot err with respect to the object, as we constantly plead for the
prerogatives of the nation, and the happiness of the people_.

The president de Maupeou said to me one day, upon returning from an
audience he had with the King, when he met with a very disagreeable
reception, “You must allow, Madam, that there is a particular fatality
annexed to our situation; we are always scolded without obtaining
justice. Nevertheless, if things were thoroughly examined with care, it
would appear that we have no interest in view by making continual
representations to our Prince, and being compelled to say disagreeable
things to him. If we did not interest ourselves so much as we do for the
good of the people, we must substitute flattery for truth, and should be
benefited by the smiles of the court; whereas we now meet with nothing
but refusals from it.” In another of these visits, when this same
president did not meet with a more favourable reception, he added, in
speaking of the counsellors of state, “It is surprising, that men of
understanding do not see through the uprightness of our intentions; and
that prejudice, which we thought only actuated the populace, falls to
the lot of those who surround the throne.”

Be this as it may, these people displeased me, because they put the King
into a bad humour, and every time they repaired to Versailles, to make
representations to him, Lewis XV. was more serious than usual.

The affair of the bills of confession was attended with consequences.
The members of parliament had hitherto spoke as orators; upon this
occasion they spoke in the stile of preachers. Their remonstrance to the
King resembled a sermon. The pope’s doctrine, dogmas, and faith, were
called in question. When a body of people quit their proper sphere, they
expose themselves to raillery. A pleasant courtier said to the
King,--“Sire, we may now attend a homily in the great chamber; the
members of your parliament know how to make sermons.”

These representations made to Lewis XV. having been printed, every one
was desirous of being possessed of them: but there was not a sufficient
number for every body. The discourses of these new missionaries were
sold at a dearer rate than Bourdaloue’s sermons, and were more in vogue.
I shall insert them here, lest this learned production should be lost to


     “Never did so important an affair lead your parliament to the foot
     of your throne. The religion, the state, the rights of your crown
     are equally threatened. A fatal schism has burst forth, less to be
     dreaded from the blaze of division it kindles amongst your
     subjects, and the shock it gives to the fundamental laws of the
     monarchy, than from the prejudice it does to religion.

     “Your majesty, struck with the disorders occasioned by the disputes
     daily renewed on account of the bull Unigenitus, has at all times
     been sensible, and particularly in 1731, of the necessity of
     suppressing a division so dangerous, and so contrary to the common
     good of the state and of religion.

     “We shall make use of the same terms in which your majesty then
     expressed yourself, in declaring your will. You forbad, in the most
     express manner any of your subjects, of what state or condition
     soever, to do or write any thing tending to support the disputes
     that had arisen in regard to this constitution, or to create new
     ones. You forbad them to attack or provoke one another, by the
     injurious terms of _innovators_, _heretics_, _schismatics_,
     _Jansenists_, _Semi-pelagians_, or any other party names, as any
     such delinquents would be treated as rebels disobedient to your
     orders, and seditious perturbators of the public tranquility. In a
     word, you enjoined all the archbishops and bishops to watch each in
     his particular diocese, that peace and tranquility were charitably
     and inviolably observed, and that these disputes were no more

     “It were to have been wished, that such sagacious orders had been
     followed by the most rigorous execution; and that you had armed
     your avenging hand against such ecclesiastics as dared contemn your
     Majesty, and withdraw from the obedience that was due to you! But
     this they have dared, and the attempt has remained unpunished:
     their passionate zeal has no longer known any bounds; they have
     declared those who were not of their opinion rebels to the church,
     and as such unworthy of partaking of its benefits, and they have
     inhumanly refused them the sacraments at the point of death. These
     abuses have been daily increased--and how much has not religion
     suffered by them?

     “Impiety has availed itself of disquisitions that prevailed amongst
     the ministers of religion, to attack religion itself.

     “The uncertainty that was introduced with regard to the foundation
     of the legitimacy of faith, hath been the means employed by impiety
     to insinuate into people’s minds its mortal poison. What advantage
     hath it not derived from the melancholy circumstances wherein we
     saw the holy fathers, who had passed their lives in exercising the
     laborious functions of the ministry to which they were
     consecrated? enlightened doctors, still more recommendable for
     their piety than their understanding: pious maidens, who, in their
     recluse retreat entirely engaged with God and their salvation,
     passed their time in the most austere works of repentance, treated
     like refractory members of the church, deprived with ignominy of
     the benefits it dispensed to its children, without its being known
     what truths decided by the church, these children refused to
     believe, or what errors prescribed by it, they refused to condemn!

     “The ostentatious philosopher, who foolishly jealous of the
     divinity itself, sees with regret the homage that is paid to him,
     judged this to be the favourable moment for producing his monstrous
     system of incredulities.

     “This system promulgated abroad, has unhappily made but too rapid
     a progress. A torrent of writings, infected with these detestable
     errors, rushed forth; and to complete the misfortune, they have
     insensibly crept into those schools defined to form proper
     defenders of faith and religion. Strange calamity for a most
     christian King! Error gains ground, and is not removed; the
     principal ministers of religion are employed only in exacting the
     acceptance of a decree, which offering nothing certain, alarms
     timid consciences by the consequences that may be drawn from it
     against the salutary doctrine, and whilst they with the greatest
     rigour prosecute those, who, by at least a pardonable, if not a
     well grounded scruple, refuse subscribing to it; they neglect what
     is essential, and let religion be shaken to its very foundation.

     “The impious become more resolute, and audacity is carried to its
     greatest height; and it was reserved for us to be eye-witnesses of
     a public thesis being maintained without opposition, in the first
     university of the christian world, whereby all the false principles
     of incredulity are systematically established[A].

     “Your parliament, Sire, who by the authority you have conferred
     upon them, should principally attend to whatever regards the
     religion of the state, are moved at the sight of so scandalous a
     proceeding. They have summoned the agents of the university. The
     attention of the magistrates has called the faculty back to their
     duty, has awakened the zeal of the pastors; and soon after appeared
     the censures of the Thesis, accompanied with the most dishonourable
     sentence, with which he, who had the audacity to maintain it, was

     “Such are the wounds that the growing schism has from its birth
     given to religion. What may we not fear it has to suffer in the
     sequel; and can we view it without being penetrated with
     affliction? With some it will be totally destroyed, and if others
     preserve it, the spirit will be entirely lost.

     “Hatred, animosity, and persecution, seize upon their hearts; those
     divine characters of union and charity, which distinguish the
     catholic church, are no longer to be known; and religion will be
     almost universally destroyed, either in the mind, or in the heart.

     “But, Sire, if your parliament owe their first attention to the
     interest of religion, they are equally engaged by the fidelity
     they have sworn to you, to guard the preservation of those great
     maxims which constitute the essence of your sovereignty.

     “And how could they avoid opposing with all their might, the
     progress of a scheme framed by some ministers of the church, to
     erect the constitution _Unigenitus, as a rule of faith_. This
     enterprize, inasmuch as it is prejudicial to religion, is contrary
     to the principles of public right, upon which the independency of
     your authority is founded. When this bull came into France, your
     parliament acquainted Lewis XIV. with all the danger of the
     condemnation which was therein pronounced against the proposition
     that relates to the matter of excommunication.

     “_Hence will follow_, we told him, _that unjust excommunications,
     that even the menaces of an unjust censure, may suspend the
     accomplishment of the most essential and indispensible duties: and
     what might be the consequence? The liberties of the Gallican
     church, the maxims adopted by the kingdom upon the authority of
     kings, upon the independency of their crown, upon the fidelity that
     is due to them from their subjects, might be annihilated, or at
     least suspended in the minds of the people, solely by the
     impression made on them by a menace of excommunication, though

     “Lewis XIV. was sensible of the importance of these reflections.
     The bull was not received but with such modifications, as are not
     so much modifications as an absolute assertion of the condemned

     “These wise precautions, the ramparts of our liberty, judged
     necessary by the late King, confirmed by your Majesty upon every
     occasion, carefully repeated in the declarations you made to
     establish the authority of the bull, conformable to the sentiments
     of the bishops, who gave their explanations in 1744, and
     corroborated by the formal decision of the Sorbonne, as they
     solemnly declared it verbally, by their Syndic in 1732; how are
     these to be reconciled with the eminent character that is now
     wanted to be given this bull, in erecting it into _a rule of

     “Dogmas of faith are not susceptible of modification; so that
     giving to the bull the qualifications or effects of a _rule of
     faith_, and exacting its pure and simple acceptance upon this
     foundation, is by a necessary consequence destroying the
     modifications which have been opposed to it, subverting the great
     principle of your absolute independence of all other power
     whatever; it is endeavouring to obtain the acknowledgment of an
     authority, capable of annihilating or suspending the rights of
     your sovereign authority.

     “Your Majesty, convinced of this truth, however favourably you may
     have expressed yourself upon the bull, has never allowed it to be
     denominated _a rule of faith_. All those writings which have
     appeared, wherein it has been endeavoured to represent it in that
     light, have been proscribed by judgments which you yourself have
     given: and when your parliament represented to you in 1733, their
     uneasiness at the conduct of some ecclesiastics, in various
     dioceses, who appeared to give this character to the bull; your
     Majesty reproached them for having foreseen that it could happen,
     that the spiritual authority should desire to erect into a dogma of
     faith, propositions contrary to the inviolable maxims of France.

     “Your Majesty told us that such an undertaking would not revolt
     less against the church of your kingdom, than against the
     magistrates; and that we might have been in security by the
     precautions which the bishops took in 1714, for the preservation of
     maxims, with regard to the ninety-first condemned proposition.

     “But, Sire, of what signification are these precautions taken by
     some bishops of your kingdom, if the others do not adhere to them,
     if they exact the pure and simple acceptation of the bull, if they
     look upon those as out of the pale of the church who do not declare
     their submission to it, without any restriction or reserve, and if
     they pretend to exclude them upon this foundation from the
     participation of all sacraments?

     “There are few amongst them, it is true, who have openly declared
     themselves, by saying, that the constitution is _a rule of faith_;
     but by giving it the effects of _a rule of faith_, is not that
     saying that it is a _rule of faith_? In matters of doctrine, none
     but those who err in a point of faith, can be excluded the
     participation of the sacraments of the church; therefore a refusal
     of the sacraments to whosoever does not submit to the constitution,
     is making the constitution a rule of faith.

     “The condemnation that the constitution has pronounced against the
     ninety-first proposition, is manifestly contrary to the great
     maxims of the kingdom, and is absolutely incompatible with the
     observance of these maxims. Therefore, when we see the ministers of
     the church, when we see the bishops establish the constitution as a
     rule of faith, we see that by a fatality, which, Sire, your
     goodness could not presume, that they want to erect into dogmas the
     faith of opinions, contrary to the most inviolable maxims of

     “They in vain protest their attachment to our liberties. Their
     conduct belies the sincerity of their words: Or, if it is really
     nothing more than an extravagant zeal for the bull that actuates
     them, they teach us how dangerous it is for them to decide
     arbitrarily in causes that may exclude the participation of the
     sacraments. Their pretended zeal becomes a passion that blinds
     them; prejudice shuts their eyes to the consequences of their
     conduct. Add to this, that if this tyranny were once introduced, we
     should soon see it by a still greater abuse, if possible, extending
     itself over matters entirely foreign to the dogma, and purely
     temporal. The point would not then only be what might relate to
     conscience; they would make themselves arbiters of the state, and
     of the form of the citizens, and would render the admission of the
     sacraments just as conditional as they pleased.

     “These are not vain fears that agitate us. We know but too well,
     that even in this case, nothing could conquer the obstinacy of an
     unjust refusal; and that neither the most respectable birth, nor
     the most pure, constant, and exemplary virtue, would be sufficient
     titles to claim, at the point of death, these sacred benefits, the
     dispensation whereof cannot depend upon human motives, and which by
     right belong to the faithful[C].

     “Your parliament, Sire, strangely surprised at so many abuses,
     daily committed before their eyes, have been made still more
     strongly sensible of the danger, when having sent a deputation to
     the archbishop of Paris, with regard to the fresh refusal of the
     sacraments, by the curate of St. Etiénne du Mont; this prelate,
     without making any reply, imperiously declared, that this was done
     by his orders. What reflections must the mind make at such a
     declaration! We shall now suppress them out of respect.

     “It will be sufficient to say, that your parliament have judged it
     to be their indispensable duty to act with rigour against this
     curate, in order to teach the inferior ministers of the church,
     that whatever orders they may have received from their superiors,
     they are answerable for putting them in execution, when these
     orders tend to disturb the public tranquility, and particularly
     when they are liable to foment a schism, the consequences of which
     cannot be considered without horror.

     “May we be permitted, Sire, to supplicate you to take into
     consideration the remonstrances which your parliament had the
     honour of presenting you last year. You will there find it
     demonstrated, that the error in the representation of a bill of
     confession, which the curate of St. Etiénne du Mont alledged for
     the reason of his refusal, cannot be a legal cause for refusing the
     _holy viaticum_ to a dying person, and that the exaction of this
     bill is only a vague pretence for refusing the sacraments to those
     who are suspected of not accepting the constitution.

     “May we be allowed to recal to your memory, the principles
     established in the representations which your parliament made
     previously to you in 1731, and 1733, upon the first refusal of the
     sacraments that came to their knowledge. The _Bull Unigenitus_ is
     not a rule of faith. The church alone could give it this supreme
     character, and the church has not given it. This bull is even of
     such a nature that it cannot be a rule of faith. It offers nothing
     certain. The different qualifications it gives to the propositions
     which it condemns, and this indetermination, absolutely oppose its
     ever being a dogma of faith: These maxims of France, which form the
     basis of our liberties, would otherwise soon be destroyed.

     “Will you, then, Sire, permit the torch of schism to be lighted up
     in the heart of your kingdom, on account of the acceptance that is
     exacted of this bull. There is nothing more menacing to an empire,
     than divisions in religious matters: They become still more fatal
     when the cause is unjust. Let them not be introduced into your
     kingdom, stifle them in their birth, and to that end let your
     parliaments act. They alone can restore a calm, by the vigilant
     exertion of their institution. A dying person may at every instant
     have recourse to the magistrate, to claim the benefits that may be
     inhumanly denied him.

     “If you reserve to yourself the care of making provision in this
     case, however favourable your intentions may be, the distance of
     places, the importance of your occupations, the difficulty of
     gaining access to the foot of your throne, will prevent their

     “Severity will not so effectually suppress the designs that veil
     the schism, as dispatch. Its progress is to be dreaded. Preachers
     already arise, who endeavour to disturb the people’s minds, and
     make our churches echo with their seditious sermons. If the fire
     encreases, it is to be feared that the flames will spread to such a
     degree, that no authority will be sufficiently powerful to stop
     the conflagration.

     “Let us call to mind in the history of past ages, those bills of
     association; those extorted declarations in the tribunal of
     penance; those scandalous sermons which spread the alarm in
     timorous consciences; those bloody wars carried to such an excess,
     that shook even this throne.

     “Struck with dread at the sight of these great misfortunes, we
     shall not cease, Sire, to rise up against all such proceedings as
     tend to schism; and we shall not cease to lay before you their
     shocking consequences. To prevent our acting, to stifle our voices,
     we must be annihilated. And if by an event which we should consider
     ourselves as almost guilty to foresee, it should happen that our
     constancy to support the rights of your crown, those of the state
     and of religion, we should draw upon ourselves your Majesty’s
     disgrace, we should lament without altering our conduct.

     “Incapable of betraying our duty, we should have nothing to offer
     you in homage but our tears, till time should convince you how
     advantageous it is for you, that your parliament at no period
     swerve from the inviolable fidelity they owe to religion, to their
     country, and to their King; and that in their archives may be found
     the uninterrupted tradition of conduct and maxims, which secure the
     tranquility of your kingdom, and the independance of your

     “Such, Sire, are the most humble and respectful remonstrances which
     the counsellors in parliament assembled, have the honour of
     presenting to your Majesty.

“Done in parliament, this
13th of April, 1752.


This fine discourse, written with energy, did not proclaim peace, but
was, on the contrary, a declaration of war, founded in appearance upon
the exigencies of the police, and the tranquility of the state; the
spirit of party was, however, its only dictator: The parliament being
composed almost entirely of Jansenists, wanted to destroy the Molinist
cabal. Each pursued his private prejudices, and no one thought of the
advantage of the state.

The King, in answer to these representations, declared, that he should
take upon himself to punish such priests as gave offence to the state,
by refusing the sacraments, and forbad the parliament interfering in the
matter: but this court took care not to obey. So far from submitting,
they published an arret, expresly ordering the priests to ask no bills
of confession from the sick people, and to administer the sacraments to
them, without interrogating them in any shape upon the subject. As
ordonnances are generally of greater latitude than they should be, this
body, having become all at once Theologists, availed themselves of this
opportunity to forbid the preachers using certain expressions, and they
specified the terms in which their sermons should be conceived.

Idle people, who deride every thing, even the most serious affairs,
turned this arret into ridicule. The wits of Paris said that the
parliament had pared the preachers nails in such a manner, that they
could not scratch the Jansenists any more.

Such sick people as wanted to commune, purchased an arret, which they
presented instead of a bill of confession. The retailers of bon-mots
said, “That the parliament of Paris were going to establish a communion
office at Paris, where the Jansenists might furnish themselves with
each sacrament, at the rate of forty-two sols tournois, for an arret.”

The court issued another ordonnance in favour of the _Bull Unigenitus_;
but the parliament, without paying attention to it, sent forth decrees
against the priests who refused to administer. The two parties became
inveterate, by their reciprocal obstinacy.

The Dauphin’s illness, which happened at the height of this dispute,
produced some short truce. This Prince found himself indisposed, as he
retired to his apartment on the first of May, 1752, at night. His
disorder was the smallpox, as was visible from the usual symptoms. He
happily recovered from it; and the King, who was at first alarmed,
testified great joy upon this Prince’s recovery.

Louis XV. is very fond of his children; and particularly the Dauphin:
never did a father sympathise so much at the vicissitudes of his
family. He pays remarkable attention to all those who belong to him.
Whenever the Queen is the least indisposed, he flies to her apartment,
and never leaves her till she is better.

All France congratulated him upon the recovery of the presumptive heir
to the crown. Each body of the state demonstrated their joy by some
particular rejoicings, and the people displayed theirs by general

I resolved in turn to testify my satisfaction at this happy event, by an
analogous feast; but I would do nothing without consulting the King. I
imparted to him my design, which he approved of, and my plan, which he

Every one that has heard my name mentioned, knows that I obtained
BELLE-VUE, where I had exhausted the refinements of art to make an
agreeable receptacle for the King. These kinds of feasts must be
allegorical, otherwise they do not express the subject of the rejoicing.

My decoration represented various dens surrounded with a piece of water,
in the middle of which was seen a luminous dolphin. Several monsters
attacked it, in vomiting flames; but Apollo, who was its protector,
hurled his thunder at them from above, and a large quantity of fireworks
compleated their destruction, as well as that of their residence. The
scene then instantly changed, and became the brilliant palace of the
sun, where the dolphin re-appeared, in all its splendor, by means of a
magnificent illumination, which lasted all night.

Scarce had the Dauphin recovered from his disorder, before the
parliament and the bishops engaged a-new the attention of the court and
the city. It was the peace that gave sufficient leisure to attend to
these disputes. In time of war, they would have had other objects to
engage their attention than bills of confession. The court would have
despised such an affair; and the parliament would not have allowed it to
be mentioned.

The obstinacy of the parliament, and the stubbornness of the curates in
refusing the sacraments, increased the King’s melancholy. I endeavoured
to multiply the amusements of his private parties, in order to remove
that state of languor which business had brought upon him. I detained
him with me at night as late as I possibly could, and did not let him
retire, till I had dissipated the clouds of his mind, by every method
that I thought would produce the effect. Music was a great assistant to
me; Rameaux was very useful to me in this respect. The King had a taste
for light airs, and this musician excelled in this kind of composition,
Jelliot executed still better than Rameaux composed. He was unrivalled
in giving life to expression, and grace to sound. I may venture to say,
that this performer, by the gaiety that he spread over the King’s mind,
was often the mediator of the most important affairs of Europe.

We know that all our resolutions spring from the actual disposition of
the soul. A monarch that refuses every thing when his mind is seized
with a certain melancholy, grants every thing when this vapour is

This disposition, the usual effect of secondary causes, and which
derives its origin from an harmonious sound, a wink, and most frequently
from the temperature of the air, does not always pursue the rule of
justice. It is unhappy for the people to be governed by mortals subject
to a machine susceptible of every kind of impression. It would be for
the good of mankind if they were governed by angels. I often repeated,
that Lewis XV. was extremely affected by these religious disputes. I
often heard him say, he would prefer being at war with princes rather
than with Theologians, because with those the treaty of peace terminates
the quarrel; whereas with these even the spirit of reconciliation
contributes to encrease it.

Marshal Saxe formerly said to me, that if he were to have gained an
advantage over the Tartars, he would have given them quarter; but that
if he had conquered an army of Theologians, he would have exterminated
them without mercy.

A man of wit, and a great politician, was of opinion, that the
universities should be shut up, and their theses forbidden upon pain of
death. He shewed me a manuscript work, whereby he pretended to prove
that all the wars, and all the crimes that had been committed in Europe
since the establishment of christianity, derived their origin from
religious disputes.

This is easy to believe, he added, if we consider that the spirit of
contention, which springs from dogmas, spreads itself through every
class, and that it is this general spirit that forms the genius of

The war relating to the _Constitution_ still continuing,
plenipotentiaries were appointed: these were commissaries, who were to
decide, whether the curates had a right to let the King’s subjects die
without communing. The Bishops said, this was the business of a council;
but the parliament were of opinion, that the Bull Unigenitus was in
subordination to the police of the state. These commissaries assembled
very regularly; but they took care to come to no determination.

The Prince of Conti, who was always in a passion when this affair was
mentioned before him, said, it should be decided by a court martial.

To this kind of tragedy some comic scenes were united. A curate who was
compelled to administer to a sick person, said to him in a loud voice,
_I commune you by order of the parliament_. Another expressed himself
thus to a dying man: _It is in consequence of an arret of the great
chamber, that I bring you God Almighty_.

The body of the clergy, who till now had appeared neuter in the affair,
entered the lists. The bishops asked justice of the King, for the
attempt of the parliament, who interfered in what did not relate to
them; and the reason they assigned was, that only God, the Pope, the
bishops, and the curates, had the right of administering. They pretended
that the great chamber should make reparation to the archbishop of
Paris, for having accused him of favouring a schism.

The King was very far from granting them what they required, as he could
not obtain of the parliament what he asked of them. Here again it was
necessary to issue arrets, to prevent licentious writings, and order
certain books to be burnt by the hand of the hangman. These were so many
fresh attacks upon the King’s constitution, and what spread an
additional gloom over his temper, already too grave.

Of all the royal family, the King was the only one who took this matter
to heart. The Queen had accustomed herself to lay all the vicissitudes
of this world at the foot of the crucifix: the King’s daughters would
not allow the _Bull Unigenitus_ to be mentioned: the Dauphin only said
that he could not speak, but that if he were King, he should know what
he had to do; the Princes of the blood despised these disputes; the
courtiers wanted to be meddling, but they knew nothing of the matter.
It was happy for France that old Marshal Belleisle was no Theologian,
for he would have embroiled matters still more. His highest ambition was
to fathom these things; but his age and vocations did not allow him to
signalize himself upon this occasion. He nevertheless, engaged in a
dispute upon predestination, to seem as if he was acquainted with what
he was entirely ignorant of.

Both parties were very solicitous for my declaring myself openly; but
besides my discovering that they were both head-strong, my happiness
prompted me to wish for the annihilation of the Constitution, as the
King’s repose so much depended on it.

I proposed to Lewis XV. that he should forbid all his subjects, as well
ecclesiastics as seculars, to pronounce the words _Bull_, _Jansenist_,
or _Molinist_, on pain of being severely punished; and to sentence such
priests as should be convicted of having refused the administration of
the sacraments, to perpetual imprisonment. But the goodness of his heart
would not allow him to exercise any methods that had an air of violence
or despotism. He wanted to be obeyed; but then, only by moderate and
gentle means.

While it was debated what method to pursue, to terminate these disputes,
a courtier said to the King, “Sire, there is but one resource, which is,
to renew the _Vingtieme_, and examine the ecclesiastical revenues; the
bishops will forget the _Bull Unigenitus_, when they are reminded that
they must give money to the state.” In effect, this new object diverted
their attention from the other.

The arrival of the Infanta of Parma completely dissipated that lowring
disposition which the _Constitution_ had spread at court. Nothing was
thought of but entertaining the Princess. I advised the King to give a
ball and an opera. In these diversions I strove rather to amuse the
King, than to divert this sovereign Princess his daughter.

The ministers of state, whom I often saw, told me that they were very
much occupied. The war had thrown them into arrears for ten years. The
King had given M. d’Argenson a coadjutor in the war department. This was
the Marquis de Paulini, a very able and intelligent man; but arts and
literature engaged part of that time which might have been employed for
the benefit of the state.

He knew more than a learned man need to have done, and he was
unacquainted with more things than a minister should have been ignorant
of. The King had sent him to examine the military state of France. He
had just visited the southern parts to reconnoitre the fortresses, and
the troops quarters. When he made his report to the King, he added,
that he had seen the protestants of Languedoc, and that at a time they
were suspected of taking up arms, they were assembled to offer up
prayers to heaven for the recovery of the Dauphin. This intelligence
greatly affected the King. It gives peculiar pleasure to sovereigns to
find all their subjects attached to them. This, perhaps, is the most
tender point of self-love in princes.

Though the King, by an effect of that goodness which is so natural to
him, often laid aside his disposition to make our conversation
agreeable, the progress of melancholy was very rapid upon my mind. At
certain moments every thing was insipid to me. I was convinced of the
propriety of what Madam de Maintenon once said, that in every state of
life there is a dreadful vacuum. What increased my anxiety was, that I
was obliged to put on a gay appearance, at the very time that the most
gnawing grief preyed upon me.

Here will I say, to the scandal of human greatness, that notwithstanding
the favour I possessed, and the brilliant elevation of my fortune, I
several times resolved upon quitting the court--Ambition alone doubtless
with-held me, for we sacrifice all things to our predominant passion. It
was this same ambition that, having raised me to the pinnacle of
grandeur, made me pass more unhappy days than those which would have
glided away, if I had remained in a less distinguished state. Every body
envied my fate, and no one thought but that I was the happiest of women:
but the state of my felicity was far from corresponding with the idea
the world entertained of it.

Those who aspire to a more elevated sphere than that wherein virtue has
placed them, fancy that riches, rank, grandeur and titles, contribute to
happiness, and that in these imaginary advantages felicity centers.
This is a fallacious opinion; when once we are accustomed to these
things, they seldom afford us any gratification. The idea which we frame
of them, pleases us more than possession itself. Neither magnificent
palaces, superb furniture, nor the most valuable jewels in Europe, which
I possessed, could make me happy.

The Count de Maurepas, who had compelled me to request the King to grant
him an exile, signified to some persons about me, that he should like to
obtain leave to reside in common at Pontchartrain. This castle is
situated near Versailles, and he was expressly forbid, upon leaving
court, to reside there. I voluntarily took upon myself to obtain this
permission for him. I asked it of the King, who said to me, in granting
it,--“Indeed, Madam, I admire your noble soul; the Count de Maurepas
has grievously offended you, and you, nevertheless, interest yourself in
his behalf.”

When the Count’s friends found that the King so easily granted what was
requested in his favour, they spoke to me about his recall to court: But
I refused to employ my credit to obtain this fresh indulgence. This was
the only thing wherein Lewis XV. possessed unshakeable fortitude. I do
not know, that notwithstanding all this Prince’s favour, with which I
was honoured, I could in this have succeeded. The attempt might have
been dangerous to myself: We should never expose ourselves to a refusal:
it is the first step that leads to indifference.

It was then publicly said, that this minister was indebted for this
favour to the Cardinal de la Rochefoucault and the Duke de Nivernois,
his relations, who at that time had some interest at court: but the
truth is, that neither the one or the other had any share in it.

The King was always surrounded with remonstrances from his parliaments.
I complained to the gentlemen of the gown, of the disturbances which
they themselves created in the state, by their obstinacy. They always
answered me, that they laboured for the glory of the King, the welfare
of the state, and the happiness of the people. It is, in my opinion, a
great abuse of the administration in France, that private individuals,
born in obscurity, and almost constantly without any other merit than
that of having purchased an employment for two or three thousand louis
d’ors, should consider themselves as part of the monarchy, and be
continually struggling with the royal authority. Marshal Saxe, before he
died, told the King, “Sire, I advise you to reimburse your parliaments;
for it is from the value of their employment, that these people derive
their consequence.”

These disputes brought religion into contempt. An author, who, supposing
that the _Bull Unigenitus_ was entirely destroyed, as the parliament
wanted to compel the curates to administer to sick people, suspected of
Jansenism, published a performance under this title, “_The funeral
oration of that most high and powerful Princess, the Bull UNIGENITUS_.”

It has been observed, that such books as these corrupt the morals more
than heresy itself. The parliament, who would not submit to the King,
said, that they opposed the schism. The Jansenists, who were refused the
administration of the sacraments, maintained with all their might, that
the gates of heaven were shut against them, in opposing the will of God;
which was a schism in this doctrine, as they allowed of no flexibility
in Providence: wherefore Mr. Maillebois, the father, said, that the
Jansenists were guilty of heresy against their own sect; for they wanted
to force predestination, after having taught that it was immutable.

This scene, which continued for several years, made France quite
ridiculous. The protestants of the kingdom, who were forbidden to speak,
said nothing: but those in foreign countries avenged their brethren’s
taciturnity, by publishing the most poignant satires against those
disputes, without considering that the same principles amongst them
produce the same divisions.

Engraving was made a party in this affair; a plate was dedicated to me,
wherein the hall of the parliament of Paris represented the school of
the Sorbonne. All the presidents and counsellors were dressed like
doctors, who instructed the King and the bishops of France in points of
religion, and these were depicted as scholars.

These sarcasms, which afflicted the King, embittered my days. I spoke
upon this subject to the first president, complained to the bishops, and
had some curates introduced to me, to talk with them about it; but these
measures procured me no relief, this dispute having given importance to
these people, in the opinion of the world, which they would not
otherwise have obtained.

Whilst a proper medicine was sought to appease these troubles, the
clergy came to ask justice of the King, for the attack the parliament
had made. This body had issued arrets in regard to matters that were
more connected with theology than policy.

The King appointed a commission to take cognizance of this affair. The
deputies of the bishops required preliminaries to be settled, before
they entered upon a negociation. They demanded, 1. The annulling of a
certain arret, as an attack upon the authority of the church. 2. The
establishment of bills of confession. 3. A reparation of honour from the
parliament to the archbishop, for having accused him of favouring a
schism. The King granted the deputies partly what they asked, and
refused them the other part. He annulled the arret, not only because it
infringed the rights of the clergy, but because it attacked his own
authority; “inasmuch, said the declarations, as the parliament have not
a right to make regulations; and that in case they should have any to
make, they should apply to the King, to ask him leave.”

In the same arret it was set forth, that no case could occur, wherein a
priest was entitled to refuse the sacraments on account of the _Bull
Unigenitus_. It was therefore added, “that with respect to spiritual
administration, the lay judges had no right to take any cognizance,
unless a law-suit ensued.”

These distinctions did not restore peace, but war continued. They fought
as before with the weapons of remonstrance. The parliament, who were
desirous of interfering as a party in the affair relating to the
administration of the sacraments, would not content themselves with
being only judges. New satyrical writings made their appearance: they
spared neither church nor state; and the King was greatly mortified by
them. I often entreated him to pay no regard to these wretched
pamphlets, whose low obscure authors were more deserving of contempt
than chastisement. But I could never prevail upon him to take this
revenge, which is the only one that should gratify sovereigns, with
respect to these unfortunate scribblers.

To convince him what sort of animals these authors were, I sent for one
into my apartment at Versailles, after having promised him pardon for
the book he had wrote, and also my protection. The King saw him, and
spoke to him for some time; after which he said to me, in raising his
shoulders, “Indeed, Madam, you are right, those folks deserve more to be
pitied than hated.”

Though Europe enjoyed a state of tranquility in 1753, this was a period
of troubles and divisions in France.

The nobility of Brittany shewed themselves equally turbulent as the
bishops, the clergy, and the parliament. They protested in a very high
stile, against what had been determined by arret, during the assembly of
the states. They had no such right. This assembly in a body represent
the royal authority; so that their deliberations are above the
protestations of any individuals that compose it. Louis XV. had several
letters de cachet dispatched, which exiled the bishops in their
dioceses, and the gentlemen in their estates.

Marshal Belleisle said, that “Letters de cachet in France were the only
specific for curing the disorder of disobedience: but that they were so
often used, that it was to be feared, they would at length produce no
effect?” But this remedy is not always made use of by the King;
ministers oftener apply it than the Prince: this is what renders the
French administration so odious to foreigners. I have, nevertheless,
heard a man of great sense applaud the use of them. He pretended that
_order_ was produced by this _disorder_. “It is said, continued he, that
the King of England has no authority to arrest the lowest of his
subjects. This is very well in England, where a republican spirit keeps
every one within the bounds prescribed to him by the constitution; but,
in France, where nobody is acquainted with the laws, where the climate
and society excite every man’s desire of speaking, all would be lost, if
the administration had not the authority of stopping this natural
impetuosity of Frenchmen, &c. &c.

“This authority lodged with the sovereign is, perhaps, necessary amongst
us; without it the great bodies politic would infringe too much upon the
rights of the crown. We have often seen in France, the clergy, the third
estate, and parliaments, endeavouring to rule over the rights of the
King. If the sovereign had not then the power of stopping the
proceedings of these bodies, all government must have subsided; for it
cannot be imagined, that those, who represent the church and the people,
would rule with a spirit of moderation and patriotism. In every state
of life, man is animated with ambition, and the most dangerous kind of
ambition is that which has for its pretext the glory of God, and the
happiness of the people.”

The same year gave us one example of this, with respect to the
parliament of Paris, to whom the court paid too great deference, and who
were so daring as to speak to the King in these words, in one of their

“If those persons, who abuse your Majesty’s confidence, pretend to
reduce us to the alternative, either of failing in our duty, or
incurring your disgrace, we declare to them, that we feel ourselves
possessed of courage to become the victims of our fidelity.”

M. de Belleisle, who personally attended at this last representation,
said to the King, that after this _coup d’eclat_ (bold stroke) the
parliament must either be dissolved, or the administration of the
kingdom given up to them. Lewis XV. banished them to Pontoise; but this
did not increase their docility: chastisement came too late; they had
been accustomed to withstand the government. From the extremity of their
exile they braved the authority of the King, who upon this occasion
testified less fortitude than the parliament did weakness. They were
exiled to punish them for having interfered with the bills of
confession; and they were no sooner at Pontoise, than he decreed the
seizing of a priest, for having refused the administration of the

Two marriages took place, which in some measure diverted these
parliamentary broils. That of the Prince de Conde with Madamoiselle
Soubise. There were at first some difficulties raised, with respect to
the titles of the house of Soubise; for this was a ticklish period, when
obstacles were started on every hand; but the King found out a
modification, by granting to both the houses of Bouillon and Soubise the
quality of serene highnesses.

Mademoiselle de Soubise brought the Prince of Conde a portion of five
millions of livres in land, without reckoning her jewels and other
expectancies, at the death of her father. The Princess whom Lewis XIV.
wedded, and the lady with whom Lewis XV. shared his throne, were not by
far so rich.

The second marriage was that of the Duke of Gisors, son to Marshal
Belleisle, with Mademoiselle de Nivernois. The court is the region of
metamorphose: the _procureur-general_ Fouquet, condemned to death by
nine judges, and banished France for his malversation in the finances,
would never have imagined that his grandson would become the
father-in-law to the daughter of the duke of Nivernois.

This duke was at that time embassador at Rome, and I frequently saw him
upon his return. He was, in my opinion, one of the foremost in merit
among the lords at court. The characters of the great are generally
composed of good qualities and defects, whereby they are less
distinguished by their virtues than their vices. This nobleman was
exempt from those foibles which tarnish superior talents. He was an
active, vigilant, indefatigable minister; a great statesman; a profound
politician; uniting with the sublime qualities of a negociator all those
which make a man amiable in society, being a good husband, a good
father, and a good friend--in a word, an honest man. Interest, that
passion which vilifies the great, found no refuge in his heart. I could
willingly compare him to Prince Charles of Lorrain, for the virtues of
his mind; and to one of the greatest geniuses that do honour to the
age, for the qualities of his head:--he may not, perhaps, be so
brilliant, but, then he has more solidity.

These two marriages were necessary to free us from that languid state,
in which those mournful disputes had immersed us. It was in vain for me
to attempt giving the King a gay turn of mind; those unhappy affairs
constantly brought him back to his melancholy state. Besides, I did not
now, as I have already said, possess myself that gaiety and chearfulness
which, before my residence at Versailles, so greatly characterized me;
and it is difficult to transmit to others what we no longer enjoy

Lewis XV. who, in his lively moments, took a good deal of pleasure in
reproaching me with this change of disposition, said to me one day,
“_Methinks, Madam, that you throw a great share of gravity into your
behaviour. If this continues, I must play my part to make you laugh; I
must sing little couplets to divert you_.” This was precisely the means
I had used to dispel that gloom which overwhelmed him: upon my arrival
at Versailles I understood his meaning, and I endeavoured to get the
better of my pensive disposition.

The parliament still continued in disgrace: the Prince of Conti
endeavoured to restore them to favour. He exerted himself greatly to
compass this design. This prince, who had retired from Versailles,
troubled himself very little with the perplexities of the court. When
the King was informed of the task he had undertaken, his Majesty said,
_It is surprising that the Prince of Conti who has hitherto never
meddled with any thing, should give himself the trouble to bring such
head-strong people back to their duty_.

His efforts were fruitless; they would not submit to this Prince’s
reasons, and he said upon his return to the isle of Adam, “If the King
had sent me plenipotentiary to some prince at enmity with France, I
should have terminated the war; but I cannot negociate between him and
his parliament.”

The King set out for Compiegne, where the Court was very brilliant. All
the Princes of the blood and the nobility of the kingdom repaired
thither. It is by custom established, that the subjects eat with the
King at Compiegne; in consequence of which several lords regaled the
monarch. Among those who gave feasts to his Majesty, one Marquis Regnier
de Guerchy, lieutenant general, and colonel of the King’s regiment,
distinguished himself the most. Methought he had taste and judgment; for
both are necessary to treat a King of France with splendour and
delicacy. This colonel’s table at Compiegne usually consisted of two
hundred covers, and it happened more than once in this journey, that he
had upwards of three hundred guests. It was said of this
lieutenant-general, that he had served his country very well, which,
according to me, is the greatest elogium that can be given to a military

When the King was at Compiegne, he was less taken up with the disputes
about religion and the parliament. Hunting and encampments entirely
engaged his attention, which gave him an air of contentment, that he
lost when he came to Versailles.

The year 1753 was the epocha of remonstrances. The comedians turned
their representations into state affairs. The opera of Paris, who saw
with regret the success of the other theatres, finding that the French
comedians had constantly full houses, thought proper to forbid their
performing ballets. The comedians made application to the government, to
obtain an edict of council to permit them to have dances. There was
something whimsical in their remonstrances to the King; for it is
difficult for a set of people, who by their profession are destined to
excite laughter, to acquire sufficient gravity to preserve such a
serious stile as is requisite in a piece dedicated to a supreme
tribunal. One of the deputies said to me, “Madam, the modern productions
are so very bad, that the greater part of them cannot be supported
without ballets. Capering is a great auxiliary to declamation, I foretel
you, Madam, that if we are not allowed to dance, words will be of no
signification.” The King laughed when I related to him this slight.

Nevertheless these same French comedians shut up their theatre, and
haughtily declared that they could not act, unless they were allowed to
dance. This theatrical vacation, which appeared trifling, was really an
affair of state. Dramatic performances prevent an infinite number of
vices which idleness creates.

The parliament, who were always in part exiled, no longer officiating,
it occasioned great detriment to public affairs. The King ordered them
to resume their vocations; they did not obey. The great chamber sent a
deputation to Versailles; they made fresh remonstrances, and here things

Happily for France, the Dauphiness was brought to bed, and those
disputes, which had spread such a general gloom at court and in the
city, were immediately forgot. Public rejoicings inspired such gaiety as
dispelled this universal cloud. Frenchmen are seldom long bereft of
their chearfulness. A marriage, or recovery, restores to them their
natural sprightliness. I do not know whether this continual transition
from grief to joy, is not preferable to that pensive disposition of the
English, which inspires them with a melancholy, from which no secondary
cause can retrieve them. A Spanish Ambassador said to me, _that the
French have some moments of existence, but that the English are in a
continual state of mortality_.

The new-born Prince was named Duke of Aquitaine. The King forsook
business to give an entire loose to pleasure, for which this happy event
gave him a relish. It made a sensible change in my disposition, as it
inspired our conversation with gaiety, and renewed our satisfaction.
Versailles was now the scene of festivity; when all the nobility
belonging to court signalized themselves, and the courtiers upon this
occasion seemed transported with joy at an event, which in reality must
have been a matter of indifference to them.

Such resources as these were necessary to rescue us from that languid
state, wherein the sameness of amusement immersed us. I had employed
the greatest refinements of art to dissipate the King’s melancholy; but
every thing is at length exhausted. Custom destroys even that novelty,
which alone can make impression on our senses.

The Duke of Richelieu, who was often of our parties in the little
apartments, afforded us great amusement. He related every thing with
that insinuating art that so happily pleases; but even his wit betrayed
too much of the courtier. One might read in his very looks his desire of
success; never did any mortal sacrifice more to fortune; he was for
grasping all favour, and disposing of the state as an absolute matter.
He publickly said, that he had done all for me, and I had done nothing
for him. But if I did not do better for him, he should blame his genius
for intrigue, and his ambitious desires, which he had not always the
power to moderate. Complaints were frequently made against him, which I
appeased. Several courtiers who had resolved to destroy him, had
prejudiced Lewis XV. against him, and I restored him to favour. But I
was not willing that he should see the King too often; for I knew his
scheme was to gain his confidence, and afterwards to estrange from court
all those who had too great an ascendant over him.

The bishops of France, who did not know in what to insult the parliament
personally, whom they said pretended to regulate the Romish church, took
occasion from the birth of the Duke of Aquitaine, to render them odious
to the nation, by comparing them to the parliament of England in the
reign of Charles I.

The bishop of Montauban, in visiting his diocesans, to thank heaven for
having given a grandson to France, thus expressed himself in his
mandate. “The spirit of party and faction was predominant in England;
there was no stability in the laws, either divine or human; and in the
midst of those clouds of darkness which gathered on every side, all
things became uncertain or indifferent, except the sacrilegious dogma of
attributing spiritual supremacy to secular authority.

“It was at this unfortunate period, that the enemies of episcopacy
having prevailed, true religion was entirely abolished, and the regal
dignity expired in the opprobrium. We saw for the first time, revolted
subjects seizing sword in hand, and leading to a shocking prison, a
King, whose only crime was, having too patiently borne their first
sedition; the parliament throwing off the yoke of all superior
authority, striking with one hand the bishops, and raising the other
against the head of their sovereign; accusing him with indecency, and
calumniating him without shame; condemning him without justice, leading
him to the scaffold like butchers, and executing him with fury; and the
people infatuated with this execrable parricide, became deeply
intoxicated with fanaticism and independence; pursuing like ideots, a
phantom of liberty, whilst like slaves, they paid to a tyrant that
obedience which they owed to their lawful King. What a dreadful series
of crimes! Here a king assassinated in his bed--there another hurled
from his throne--all his family banished--the crown transferred upon the
head of a foreigner--ever tottering, notwithstanding the blood spilt to
secure it,” &c.

The Prince of Conti said upon this occasion, that the bishops should be
forbid introducing the history of England into public prayers. This was
a most poignant satire against the parliament, which foretold what the
state had to fear from this body: but we had no Cromwell in France; and
the commons of England act upon different principles from the parliament
of Paris.

The English embassador made great complaints, that any one in France
should dare to reproach his nation with having put their King to death.
He spoke to the minister about it, and the bishop’s discourse was
suppressed. The fate of this kind of writings is always determined by
the times. If France had been at war with England, the mandate would not
have been suppressed; but the peace which then subsisted between the two
nations would not allow it to pass.

The parliament’s arret, nevertheless, left a vacuum in the
administration of justice, and business languished. I was applied to by
a great number of people to prevail upon the King to create new judges.
Lewis XV. for a long time resisted these solicitations; but he at
length resolved upon doing it. He established a chamber of _vacations_,
who performed the functions of the parliament: but this new chamber was
scarce established before the members of the Chatelet declared against
it; for divisions now reigned between the bodies of judicature. There
was no one in the kingdom that did not declare itself independent of any
other; which made a man of wit say, that the Turkish constitution was
preferable to ours, as the divan alone regulated the state; whereas
every parliament in France created confusion in the kingdom.

Some bailiwicks and presidials in the jurisdiction of the parliament,
wanted to share in the general disobedience, as well as disgrace. They
refused to acknowledge the chamber of Vacations. Here was fresh subject
for exile; which made a courtier say, that “every corporation was
concerned, and the body of ushers would soon oppose the orders of the
court.” The foreign embassadors who were eye-witnesses of this disorder,
gave their sentiments with respect to the system of their governments.
The minister from Venice said, that a senate should be called, wherein
the supreme power should be lodged, and which no other body could
oppose. The English embassador spoke of a house of commons. The Spanish
embassador advised the establishment of the inquisition in France.

The parliament, removed to Soissons, obstinately refused resuming their
functions; and the chamber of _vacations_ rather increasing the
disorder, than restoring public tranquility, it was necessary to form a
royal chamber, to pursue the business of the parliament. M. de Belleisle
said, “he wished that this chamber might continue till the end of time.”

All France was occupied with the parliament’s exile. Another tribunal
was substituted in their place, for which it was necessary to create
fresh edicts, containing a new form of judicature. The court and city
were entirely taken up with these misunderstandings. Upon which occasion
a prince of the blood said, that “the court was very good to trouble
themselves with such trifles, whilst foreign affairs of importance
should engage the attention of the cabinet.”

The ministry was in fact greatly weakened during these quarrels. Several
members of the great chamber were related to those who filled the first
employments in the kingdom. The parliament were by alliance connected
with the finances; and many brave officers were either relations or
friends of the exiles: Courtiers and those who had their fortunes to
make at court, were for the King. I say nothing of the populace, for
their opinion is of no weight in France, all divisions of this nature
taking place in a region that is quite foreign to them.

These different parties animated the disputes with so much heat, that
they were often carried to extremities. Many duels have been fought in
Paris, in defence of the great chamber.

A lieutenant-general walking in the Elysian fields, seeing an officer
fighting with a counsellor’s brother, said to the military man, in
parting them, “Sir, keep your courage for the service of the state, we
shall soon have occasion for it, for we are assured that the English are
going to declare war against France.”

Marshal Belleisle, who wanted to be every where, but who could not enter
into the disquisitions, because they had began upon theological
disputes, which he did not understand, endeavoured to put an end to
them. He said to me one day; “In God’s name, Madam, bid the King
abolish the parliament, that they may be no more spoken of at court.”
_Marshal_, I replied, _speak to him yourself, I give you the

The members of the Chatelet, who would not acknowledge the royal
chamber, had also their partizans, who excited murmurs in Paris; which
made a courtier say, that “the Chatelet should be sent to the Bastile.”

Most of the provincial tribunals refused in turn to submit to this
chamber. Lyons set the example, and this was sufficient to create
general disobedience. Lewis XV. saw with indignation, that his subjects,
under pretence of fidelity and submission, should rebel against his
orders. If this Prince had been as absolute as Lewis XIV. a civil war
would have desolated France; but the goodness of his soul, and that
gentleness which characterizes him, made him prefer the general peace of
his kingdom to the gratification of his own particular revenge. Had he
but spoke, those who opposed him would have been exterminated.

The kings of France had formerly but very little power; but since they
have had three hundred thousand men at their command, who only wait for
orders to obey their will, they can do every thing. A mandate from Lewis
XV. to two or three regiments, would have been sufficient to have made
the parliament return to their duty. But this Prince was an enemy to
every thing that carried with it the appearance of violence. He would be
obeyed; but then only by gentleness and moderation. Ministers, who are
usually as jealous of the royal authority as the King himself, pretended
that this very moderation was the source of all the disorders that
disturbed the state.

These ministers exhorted me to induce the King to have fortitude. They
represented to me the dangerous consequences that would result to the
state, by leaving the disobedience of the parliament unpunished. Those
who were in the interest of this body remonstrated to me on their part,
the danger of keeping in exile the depository tribunal of justice, and
who alone could administer it: a tribunal that were meritorious for
their very resistance, as it was the strongest conviction of their zeal
for the glory of the King, and the happiness of the people, &c.

If I had followed my inclination, I should have insisted upon the royal
chamber’s being sustained, to the exclusion of the parliament; but I
knew the King’s heart. I knew that his natural goodness would prevail
over his resolution.

The Duke of Richelieu was ever intriguing with the King, and had gained
an ascendant over him. This courtier always fought for opportunities of
conversing with the Prince in private, and of obtaining his good
graces. I had frequently opposed his designs, and this had determined
him to make one great effort for ingrossing the King’s favour. This
conduct displeased me, and as he always renewed the attack, _My Lord_,
said I to him one day in the presence of the King, _I have received
letters from Languedoc, by which I am informed, that your presence is
there required. I advise you to fit out for Montpellier, which is in
your department; for his Majesty will not have any bishops or governor
of that province at Paris_. The courtier understood my meaning. He set
out a few days after for Bourdeaux, and I seldom saw him upon his

The Duchess de Talard, governess to the children of France, being lately
dead; the King said to me, _Who shall we entrust with the Dauphins young
family?_ “Sire, I replied, Madam Talard was possessed of great merit,
which makes it difficult to supply her place. I have thought upon all
the women of France, and I do not know of any but the Countess de
Marsan, who is capable of succeeding her.”

She was appointed, and this lady, who was acquainted with my
interposition in her favour, made me her acknowledgments. This
preference I had given her, created me many enemies. All the ladies that
were excluded, considered me as the cause of their exclusion: thus is a
King’s favourite loaded with public hatred. When there is a vacancy, she
can ask it only for one person, and most frequently all those who laid
claim to it, become the enemies of her that disposed of it.

The birth of the Duke of Aquitaine had diffused universal joy at court;
and his death immersed the royal family again in melancholy--tears
succeeded joy--but the subject was soon forgot. Had it not been for the
funeral pomp, which lasted several days, he probably would have been no
more thought of after the first. The spectacle of his death made tears
to flow; without these obsequies, his loss would scarce have been
mentioned. The court was still engaged in curbing the strides of the
parliament and the Chatelet. This affair filled the state with edicts. A
politician said, “that if the government had given the same attention to
the other branches of the administration, France would have been the
best regulated kingdom in Europe.”

This attention did not, however, restore order; no one of the parties
would yield to the other.

At length this great affair, by which France had been so much disturbed,
and given foreign nations so much scope for satire, was terminated just
as it should have been terminated; that is to say, by the obstinacy of
the parliament, and the weariness of the King. Lewis XV. (I cannot too
often repeat it in these Memoirs) is a good Prince; his tender and
sympathising soul is not of the number of those that are irritated by

The self-love of kings who will be absolute, creates disorders, which
usually swallows up both states and politics. The Prince, who was
desirous of maintaining the peace of his kingdom, and advancing the
happiness of his people, yielded, the very instant he saw that, by
opposing his parliament, a general revolution might be dreaded.

The King’s conduct in this respect, was by many greatly censured; he was
accused of weakness. Perhaps he was animated only by respect. The shafts
of ridicule began to fly; for kings of France, as absolute as they may
be, are not exempted from their attacks. A prince of the blood thus
expressed himself before several courtiers. “I always said, gentlemen,
that the mountain in labour would bring forth nothing but a mouse.”

M. de Maupeou had a private audience of the King at Compiegne, where all
the preliminary articles of peace were signed. The monarch declared to
him, that he should recal the letters de cachet, and that the parliament
might return to Paris, where the general treaty of reconciliation was to
be framed.

The triumph was too great not to be accompanied with glory. The
president immediately proclaimed his victory. He dispatched a courier to
every court in the kingdom, and gave intelligence to his brethren, who
arrived at Paris in triumph. Although this peace restored tranquility at
Versailles, which influenced the happiness of my life; yet I
acknowledge, my indignation was kindled to see the lawyers thus get the
better of the King’s first resolutions. I was acquainted with their
obstinacy, and this alone set me against them.

Reports were spread that I was the instrument of this reconciliation,
and that the King yielded only at my intercession; but this was rumoured
like an infinite number of other things, which had no more foundation. I
acknowledge, that I ardently wished that these parliamentary disputes
were at an end; but if I considered my own tranquility, I did not forget
the glory of the King. I several times scolded M. de Maupeou, in the
minister’s presence, for the little deference he paid to his master’s
orders, and of the formal disobedience of his body. He constantly
replied, with that gravity which is common to those who are at the head
of an assembly, that he and his brethren were the most submissive
subjects of the state; and this answer irritated me still more.

The King desired to see this magistrate once more before an entire
reconciliation took place. He received M. de Maupeou with that
politeness that is so natural to him, and which gains him the hearts of
all those who approach him.

“My intention, Sir, (said the King to him) is, that my parliament should
resume their functions in the capital: I hope I shall have no farther
occasion to complain of them; and that the goodness with which I treat
them, will engage them to fulfil their duty for the future, with that
zeal which they owe to my service, and a ready submission to my orders.”

The Queen was desirous of having her share in the event; the president
waited upon her. “I conceive the most perfect joy, said this Princess,
at the King’s restoring the parliament of Paris to their ancient
functions. I have been greatly affected at the interruption that has
occurred; and it is with satisfaction I assure you of my esteem for that

Those who determine every thing at court and in the city, thought the
King had shewn too much weakness upon this occasion; that he should
either not have carried things so far, or else pursued them still
farther. But those who determined in this manner, could they themselves
have communicated to the government that foresight that is necessary to
be acquainted with events before they happen? The first disputes that
arose between the court and the parliament were so trifling, that to
have judged of them by the usual course of things, they could not have
occasioned the least disturbance in the state. The minds of people were
insensibly irritated.

Fresh circumstances having changed the state of the question, they
insensibly wandered from the first principles, and then each party were
carried beyond their goal. The King often told me, at the very time that
he was thundering forth edicts against the parliament, that if he had
known things would have been carried to such a length, he would have
yielded at first.

The recal of the parliament had great influence over us. From that
moment the King became gayer than usual; our conversation was lively and
joyous. “Sire, I said to the King, if you have any subject of complaint
against your parliament, I entreat you not to let them remain long in
exile; for I have too much at stake in the misunderstanding, and much to
gain by a reconciliation.”

The death of the Marquis de S. Contest, which happened at the time of
the recal of the great chamber, occasioned a vacancy in the ministry. I
have in another place spoke of the talents and character of this
minister; it was said of him that he was fond of peace, because he did
not know how to conduct a war. By his death there was a post to be
filled in the department of foreign affairs. There were many candidates,
but few ministers. The war had disposed every one’s genius for arms. Few
but the first clerks in offices applied themselves to business. The King
sought about him, and I enquired of all those who surrounded me, without
finding what the state wanted. “Sire, I said to the monarch, till such
time as some happy discovery can be made, I advise your Majesty to
appoint M. Rouillé to supply the place.”

All France was astonished at this choice, and M. Rouillé himself as much
as all France.

Many considerations induced me to make this determination in his

He was to be raised or lowered at will. M. de Belleisle said, that he
might be created King of France, and afterwards reduced to a clerk of
the navy or war office. He had none of those brilliant qualities which
attract admiration; but he was endued with probity, and a minister was
then wanted who was an honest man.

Many placemen had been guilty of malversation; some upright person was
required to remove the disorders of the state. I heard a very honest man
say, that the office of foreign affairs required a chief who had more
equity than sense, and more probity than knowledge. He said, that the
northern nations, with whom this minister was continually engaged, have
the character of frankness, which they like to find in those with whom
they are concerned. This same person proved that all, or the greater
part of the wars between France and Germany, derived their source from
the corruption of this minister.

The department of the marine was given to M. de Machault; he was already
keeper of the seals, and comptroller-general. Many persons had spoken to
me of him; but his qualifications alone determined me in his favour. He
had great penetration, and was very proper to fill the post he held: I
could have wished that he had possessed not quite so much ambition; for
this passion, when it has no bounds, makes the most enlightened geniuses
commit many errors. Ingratitude is most constantly its attendant, and I
look upon a man who is wanting in sentiments of acknowledgment, as a
monster in nature.

The comptrollership of the finances was given to M. Moreau de
Seychelles. These changes puzzled the public, and gave a wide field for
speculation. Those who aspired to these places, thought that the
persons to whom the preference had been given did not deserve them. They
were first murmured at, and then courted. M. de Machault in giving up
the finances for the marine had degenerated. It was said of this
minister, _that he had left a golden post for a wooden one_.

I acknowledge that I would have induced the King to have placed at the
head of these two first departments in the kingdom, two men of superior
genius to those who were lately invested with them; but where were they
to be found? Marshal Saxe said before he died, “that a ministerial
school and not a military school should be established; he pretended
that all Frenchmen were born soldiers, and that no one came into the
world with the qualities of a minister.”

The officers of the navy had for a long time complained that they did
not enjoy the same honours as those of the land-forces. They underwent
more fatigue, and equally exposed their lives; it was therefore unjust
not to allow them the same prerogatives. Lewis XIV. who had done a great
deal for the French navy, had not yet done enough. I interested myself
in its favour, and only seconded the King’s good intentions: he
instituted a great cross of St. Lewis, with three commanders, the orders
of which were to be distributed according to the rank and merit of

The joy that sprung from the reconciliation of the court and parliament,
was succeeded by still greater. The Dauphiness brought forth a Duke of
Berry. The satisfaction the King received from the increase of his royal
family, was unparalleled. Each new heir filled him with happiness. I may
say, that the fortnight following these two events, was the most
agreeable period of my life whilst I was at Versailles.

In the mean while the parliament was received at Paris with
demonstrations of joy, rather insulting to the court; all the avenues to
the palace were illuminated, bonfires blazed, and the bells were rung.
The King was displeased; but M. de Maupeou answered him, that none of
his body had any hand in these rejoicings--and this should have rendered
them the more suspected.

Edicts had been created for establishing a royal chamber of justice;
others were now issued for suppressing it: whereupon one of the members
said, “that it was not worth while to make a court-gown for so short a
time; and that if he had known that the royal chamber would have been
revoked so soon, he would have bought neither wig nor band, but would
have judged the criminals with a sword by his side.”

The King’s letters-patent upon the return of the parliament, are worthy
of being handed down to posterity. Lewis XV. there speaks like a master
to a court who had opposed him, because they had considered themselves
as absolute, and whose fresh convocation was a manifest proof of their
disobedience. The King expressed himself in this manner.

“The resolution which the officers of our parliament took on the fifth
of May, last year, of discontinuing the administration of justice to our
subjects, which they should perform from us; their refusal of resuming
their functions, which form an indispensable duty of the functions of
their state, and which they have engaged by the sanctity of oath to
perform, compelled us to testify to them our displeasure at their
conduct: the pretext they gave for discontinuing their usual service
was a kind of additional fault on their part, the less excusable, as
they could not doubt of the intentions which we had, and by which we
constantly abide, of listening to what our parliament might have to
represent to us, for the good of our service and that of our subjects;
and not being ignorant that we were informed by their arrets, of the
object of their remonstrances, they must have acknowledged that they had
brought upon themselves the refusal which we gave to hearing those
repeated remonstrances. But after having for a time made them feel the
effects of our displeasure, we have willingly listened to the dictates
of our clemency, and we have recalled to our good city of Paris, the
officers of our parliament. Being, nevertheless, ever attentive to the
dissipating of those divisions, which have for some time arisen, the
consequences of which have appeared deserving of our greatest
attention, we have taken the most effectual measures for procuring
henceforward public tranquility; and in hopes that our parliament,
earnestly striving, by ready obedience and redoubled assiduity, to
repair the injury our subjects may have sustained, will upon every
occasion testify their submission and fidelity to us, by conforming
themselves to the wisdom of those designs which animate us, we have
resolved to re-assemble them at Paris, to signify to them our

“Urged by these motives and others, with the advice of our council, and
our certain knowledge, full power and royal authority, we have by these
presents, signed with our hand, ordered, and do order all and every one
of our officers of our parliament to reassume their usual functions, in
our good city of Paris, notwithstanding any thing to the contrary, and
to administer justice to our subjects without delay or interruption,
according to the laws and the duties of their posts; and being sensible
that the silence imposed for so many years, upon matters that cannot be
agitated, without being equally prejudicial to the advantage of religion
and to that of the state, is the most proper means of securing the
public peace and tranquility; we enjoin our parliament to pay attention,
that there be nothing on any side attacked, attempted, or innovated,
that may be contrary to this silence, and to the peace which we desire
should reign in our dominions; ordering them to proceed against the
offenders agreeable to the laws and ordinances. And, moreover, to
contribute to the pacifying of turbulent minds, and have what is past
forgotten; we will and expect, that all proceedings and prosecutions,
that may have been carried on, and the definitive sentences that may
have been pronounced for contumacy, from the beginning, and on account
of the late troubles, till the date of these presents, shall remain
without any consequence or effect, without injuring, however, the
definitive judgments that may have been contradictorily given without
appeal; provided always, that the parties against whom they may have
been given, may have recourse to such legal methods as remain, if such
there be,” &c. &c.

We were told at Versailles, that this declaration met with many
difficulties from the great chamber. Marshal Belleisle said to the King
upon this occasion, “If your parliament after their exile, do not
register your letters patent, they must be banished out of the
kingdom,” &c. A courtier, on the other hand, said, he should be very
much surprised if they did register them. His reason for being of this
opinion, was, that when too much respect is paid to a body, they
naturally abuse it. The declaration was nevertheless registered, but
with the usual restrictions and distinctions.

After the parliament’s recall, it was necessary that they should pay a
compliment to the King, and M. de Maupeou pronounced it. He acquitted
himself like a subtle and skilful magistrate, who, in cautiously
treating the prerogatives of the crown, displayed those of his own body.
This second piece deserves also to be handed down to posterity. It was
as follows.


“The greatest misfortune that can befal faithful subjects is, doubtless,
to incur their sovereign’s disgrace.

“This trial, which your parliament has lately made, plunged them into
such excess of grief, as cannot better be described to your Majesty,
than by the striking testimony which we give you, in respectfully
acknowledging it.

“The union, Sire, which, through your goodness, has taken place amongst
those members, who were for a long time dispersed, has enabled us to
testify our submission to your orders, and our love to your sacred

“Can any thing be more worthy of the best of Princes, than to stretch
out a paternal hand to the magistrates, who were totally incapable of
giving him fresh proofs of the zeal, with which they are animated for
his service, and enable them to lay before him the motives which induced
them to take, as may be said, against their inclinations, such steps as
have been so unfortunate as to displease him?

“What glory, Sire, will ever be comparable to your’s! After having so
often conquered your enemies in person, your sole occupation, in the
height of peace, is the happiness of your people. You love truth, and
you endeavour to be acquainted with it; truth reaches even you, without
any other aid than your own understanding: and it is no sooner known to
you than it enjoys all its prerogatives.

“Truth alone made you sensible how much the dispersion of all the
members of a parliament is a dangerous example, by reason of the blow it
levels at all the fundamental laws of the kingdom; and by the immensity
of the evils that are derived from it.

“It was this same truth that made you acquainted with the feelings of
your parliament, at the dread of being for ever banished from your
presence, by your refusing to receive their remonstrances, upon the mere
view of the nature of the objects that must have been introduced into
these important representations.

“In a word, it was this truth that engaged you to remove their fears
with that goodness which will transmit to future ages the true love
which you have for subjects, whose interests, you know, are inseparable
from your own.

“You have gone still farther; you have extended the wisdom of your
designs throughout your whole kingdom, by taking the unshakeable
resolution of maintaining therein that order and tranquility upon which
its splendor depends. It is in order to stop those divisions, the
dangerous consequences whereof you are acquainted with, that you have
commanded the most profound silence to be kept with regard to matters,
which cannot be discussed without being prejudicial to religion, and the
happiness of the state.

“Ah! Sire, how could your parliament have refrained from consecrating,
by registering, so salutary a law, notwithstanding the pungent grief
with which they were afflicted upon reading the preamble to this law?
Yes, Sire, we dare make this representation to you; your parliament, in
all the unhappy circumstances in which they have found themselves, have,
by giving the preference to public affairs before private ones, only
done what was exacted from them by the duties of their station, and the
sacred observance of their oath.

“Let us be allowed to tell you, Sire, that your parliament desires
nothing so ardently, as to know how fully to convince you of the
strength and extent of their duty. They can do nothing of themselves:
they exercise that portion of authority you have entrusted them with;
and the only object to which all their efforts tend, shall be to make
themselves agreeable to your Majesty, and to fulfil their duty: a duty,
Sire, that compels them incessantly to watch over the preservation of
that precious deposit of authority which you hold from the Almighty, and
which should be transmitted in all its purity to your most remote

“How happy is it for us, to see this supreme power in the hands of a
Prince, who governs with such wisdom and moderation, as must gain him
all hearts; and who knows that the real links which unite Frenchmen to
their Sovereign, are those of love.

“So deeply, Sire, is it graven in our souls, that we protest to you, in
the name of all the magistrates that compose your parliament, that they
will be always ready to sacrifice what is the most dear and precious to
them, as soon as the interest of your glory is concerned, and to set an
example to your subjects of the fidelity and obedience they owe to the
Sovereign will.”

The bishops of France pretended that this was a stroke of the most
arrogant modesty that had appeared this century. Courtiers found many
contradictions in it. The first president declared, in the name of his
body, that the authority exercised by the parliament was a deposite
entrusted with them by the King; how then, it was said, could this trust
confer to this body such independence as extends to opposing the will of
the Prince?

Towards the close of this discourse, we find an insult offered to the
crown. This body, who had manifestly opposed the King’s orders, and who
had preferred exile to submission, say, that they will always be found
ready to set an example of obedience. It was said, that an example of
_obedience_ was never before given by _disobedience_.

Notwithstanding this reconciliation, there was still some animosity
remaining on both sides. For my part, I was delighted that this affair
was terminated. I have frequently repeated in these Memoirs, that it
troubled the King, and this was sufficient for me to desire a

To the parliamentary quarrels succeeded political affairs. The English
were making great warlike preparations; the last peace had not removed
all difficulties. The plenipotentiaries were more eager to put an end
to battles, than to prevent fresh bloodshed.

Marshal Noailles had often told me, that the negociators at a congress
have only one point in view, which is to sign the treaty. Upon this they
exhaust all their genius, so that they have not the faculty of foresight

The Duke of Mirepoix came from London to receive the King’s orders. This
Minister, in speaking to his Majesty of the preparations that the
English were making, assured him, “That Great Britain had no thoughts of
interrupting the peace.” _Whence comes it then_, said the King, _that
they are arming as if they wanted to be at war_?

“Sire, answered the Duke, it is a maxim with the English, to avail
themselves of the tranquility of Europe, to increase their forces.”

This Minister, who was besides an honest man, believed what he said.
French emissaries in London had written to court, that the English
deceived him, that he let himself be imposed upon by appearances, and
that the cabinet of St. James’s concealed their views and designs from

I often desired the King to appoint another Ambassador for the court of
London: but he was afraid of disobliging this Lord, who, moreover, did
honour to his employment, by his grandeur and magnificence.

Lewis XV. has such a beneficent soul, that he cannot resolve upon
withdrawing his friendship from those whom he has once honoured with his
confidence, unless he is convinced of some capital fault that compels
him to it.

Versailles became daily more and more melancholy; the unhappy affairs of
the clergy, the bishops, and the parliament, spread a gloomy air over
all those who frequented court.

To relieve the King from the languid state into which these disputes had
brought him, I had Bellevüe built. It was a square pavilion, where the
eye discovered more taste than magnificence: the King complimented me
upon it. He often repaired thither. I had embellished this spot with
simple works, and art was concealed behind nature, which prevented its

The gardens and groves were delightful. Lewis XV. often said to me, that
he was suffocated at Compiegne, at Fontainbleau, and at Marli; but that
he breathed at Bellevüe. We divided our time between walking and
gardening, with other rural amusements. Flowers composed part of the
plan of our recreations, and I had some brought from every part of the

When the King entered this house, he laid aside that air of Majesty
which regal pageantry obliged him to keep up elsewhere. I was always a
gainer by this metamorphosis, as it rendered him gayer than usual; and
his satisfaction, which increased mine, spread an air of joy over our
conversation. There was, besides, another difference, which was, that at
Bellevüe the King talked to me of his taste, of his appetites, and other
things that tended to his pleasure; whereas at Versailles he never
entertained me with any thing but disputes upon religion, the refusal of
sacraments, or other matters, which were far from being agreeable to

This retreat gave him frequent occasion to speak of the advantages that
accompanied private life. He discovered in it charms, that the
perplexity of public business, and the tumults of the throne, made him
the more sensible of.

The King, desirous of giving me marks of his particular protection,
created the estate of Marigni, which belonged to my brother, into a
marquisate. I thanked him for this favour, which appeared to me the
greater, as Vandiere had not done any thing yet to deserve it.

Let us return to general affairs. America, which was upon the point of
exciting universal war, began already to display some sparks of that
blaze which was to inflame Europe. The English made the first
complaints. The Earl of Albemarle represented to the court of France,
that the French in Canada committed hostilities, contrary to the treaty
of Aix-la-Chapelle.

The court of France replied, that they were ignorant of such
proceedings: but that to prevent any misunderstanding, they would send
orders to suppress these first differences, on condition that the
English would, on their side, act in the same manner. Both nations
promised, but neither kept their word. They were mutually deceived, as
most usually happens upon these occasions.

I remember that when the English made these first complaints to our
court, a foreign minister said to me, that the cabinet of Versailles and
that of St. James’s knew very well they were going to war; but that they
would not say so, to make the thing more mysterious.

“In that case, Sir,” said I to him, “the King is not in the secret, for
he does not know a syllable about this war which you foretel.” In fact,
Lewis was quite ignorant that he was at the eve of engaging in a long
succession of sieges and battles. He was well informed of the motives
which induced the English to complain: but he had not been acquainted
with their resolution of having recourse to arms.

Whilst the misunderstandings in the new world were the subject of
conversation, the religious war still continued in the kingdom. The
King, who, in order to restore tranquility to the state, had done every
thing that was desired of him, had the mortification to find that
nothing was done that he desired. He was obliged to exile the Archbishop
of Paris. I was witness of the affliction he was under, from the
necessity of giving this order. He had endeavoured to bring this prelate
back to his duty, by all the methods which his goodness, and his
beneficent soul, could suggest to him; and it was not till after he had
in vain essayed them, that he resolved upon sending him to Conflans.

The conduct of this Archbishop, who had openly disobeyed his Sovereign’s
orders, irritated the courtiers to that degree, that the Monarch was
advised by several of them to have him seized by the military power, and
to keep him closely confined: but Lewis XV. was of too gentle a
disposition to put such rigorous counsel into execution. I have often
heard him say, that Kings should punish, but never think of revenge. He
entrusted the letter de cachet to one of his ministers, with orders to
signify it to the Archbishop as privately as possible.

The King found himself again obliged to banish the bishops of Orleans
and Troyes, two prelates whose sentiments were too conformable to those
of the Archbishop of Paris. These two might be considered as the
fire-brands of the kingdom. They prepared the people’s minds for
disobedience, in showing themselves rebels to their Prince’s orders.
One of these, from the extremity of his exile, insulted the court and
the state by a mandate, wherein he forbad all his diocesans to have
recourse, in the case of administration, to any other priests than those
whom he prescribed; and it was necessary that these priests should be
vicars, or curates. This was constraining the extent of priesthood; but
as soon as the episcopal authority is the least attacked, the Princes of
the church are always ready to undertake any thing. Marshal Saxe said,
“That if God were to limit the power of bishops in France, these bishops
would, in turn, allot bounds to the power of God.”

The exile of the Archbishop of Paris silenced his most considerable
partizans; but it did not finish the quarrel.

The minister of the marine laid before the King a list of his navy: it
consisted of sixty-six ships of the line, and thirty frigates. A
politician of the North said, that this was not sufficient to make head
against the English; and he prophesied, at that time, that if we did not
avoid going to war, the French navy would be totally destroyed when we
made peace. I repeated these words to several of our ministers, who
answered, that this politician was unacquainted with marine prophecies.
France has long since been deprived of those statesmen whose penetrating
genius could unravel the most distant events. We at present go
mechanically and habitually to work, in the track we are compelled to
follow. Marshal Saxe made use of a very singular expression, he said,
_that our government daily performed their day’s work_.

The naval force was kept in readiness: seamen were enrolled; but able
sea-officers were wanting. France has seldom had any good ones. Lewis
XIV. formed some, but they expired with his reign.

The spirit of party and animosity was still kept up at court. The cabal
who strove to destroy me, increased with my favour. Envy displayed all
the latent springs that human wickedness could suggest. All who
surrounded the Prince, endeavoured to deprive me of his confidence.

Amongst those who conspired against me, there were people who were
indebted to me for their fortune, and for whom I constantly interested
myself. I pointed them out to the King. Lewis XV. detests ingratitude;
these dark proceedings produced a very contrary effect to what my
enemies had proposed. The King paid me more attention than before, and
despised those the more who would have deceived him. I shall not repeat
here the low and scandalous artifices that courtiers, and even some
ambitious women, put in practice to surprize the Monarch’s heart. A
detail of these intrigues are unworthy of history, and I have no design
of transmitting to posterity the artifices of cabals, which relate to no
one but myself.

M. Moreau de Seychelles, comptroller-general of the finances, was of
service to the state. He was very assiduous in regulating the finances.
I made the King take notice of him, and immediately this Prince made him
minister of state. He had his enemies at court: it was said that he had
done nothing yet to deserve that post, and that fortune having so
precipitately forced his elevation, he would never advance above half
way to favour.

When he came to court, to return the King thanks, I said to him, “Sir,
many people pretend to foretel the destiny of your administration,
convince all France that they are false prophets.”

The Duke of Mirepoix, who had always assured the court, that the English
had no thoughts of breaking the treaty of peace, was at length obliged
to write that they prepared for war. France hastily put herself into a
state of defence, without knowing precisely whether she was coming to
blows. Orders were dispatched from the office of the marine to all the
ports and harbours. The ships that were finished were launched, and the
others kept ready to sail on the first notice.

The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was, nevertheless, still negociating at
Paris. This business was no longer transacted with Lord Albemarle; he
was dead. The interests of Great Britain were in the hands of a
secretary of embassy, who gave vague replies to the questions that were
put to him, upon the preparations his court was making.

Some politicians have assured us, that if Lord Albemarle had lived, the
war, which afterwards rent the two nations, would never have taken
place. It has been said that minister, who had great weight with George
the Second, was at that time connected with a woman of pleasure at
Paris, whom he would not part with. This perhaps is only a surmise,
destitute of foundation; but after all, this would not have been the
first time that the amours of a courtezan have influenced the affairs of

Upon the arrival of the dispatches from London, a great council was held
at Versailles, and the King expressed himself in the following manner to
his ministers. “I am resolved I will not begin the war, and if the
English break the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, Europe, who shall be
witness to my moderation, shall see that they are the aggressors.”

M. de Maillebois, the father, said publicly at court, that it were
better to prevent them, than to give them an opportunity of doing it.

The King’s moderation met with no advocates but those whose interest it
was to avoid sieges and battles; for every one was concerned in the
event according to his particular views of interest. Military people
wanted war, merchants and financiers wished for peace.

The court of London sent my Lord Hertford to Paris, to replace the Earl
of Albemarle. This Ambassador was compared to a herald at arms: it was
said that he was come to declare war against France. He spoke, in fact,
in such a tone, as testified that every thing was ready in England to
invade America. M. Rouille was so intimidated, that he said to the
King: “Sire, Great Britain must have resolved to declare war, for her
Ambassador talks in such a stile, as if the English were ready to open
the campaign.”

Upon the first report of the preparations of an armament, the military
men, who, since the last campaigns in Flanders, had deserted Versailles,
came in shoals to make their court to me. All my apartments were lined
with officers, who, in intreating my interest to recommend them to the
Prince, set forth their talents in the military art.

The Bishops war, nevertheless, still continued. The Archbishop of Paris,
banished to Conflans, was not thereby rendered more submissive. He, from
the extremity of his exile, braved the court and the city. He was
removed to _Lagny sur Maine_, a little town that had neither the
grandeur nor magnificence of Conflans. This retreat, by diminishing his
episcopal pomp, no way changed his character, which remained inflexible.
The other rebellious bishops were treated with more severity: but these
lettres de cachet had a very opposite effect to what was intended. They
served only to make them more important in the eyes of their partizans,
which increased their arrogance.

A courtier said to the King, that a seminary should be built at Rome, to
which should be sent all the French bishops who rebelled against his
orders, with an establishment of 100 Roman crowns per head, for
supporting their grandeur.

It is certain that too much respect was paid to these people; and the
very chastisements that were inflicted on them, when they swerved from
their duty, were tempered with so much consideration, as to prevent
their returning to it.

The bishops having nothing to do in their exile but to write, and being
unable to employ any other arms than their pens, France was deluged with
letters and mandates. These were so many manifestoes against the royal
authority. The King was often advised to hang the Printers, who were
instrumental in the circulation of these seditious papers; but Lewis XV.
would never have recourse to these violent methods.

The English, at length, explained themselves with respect to their
warlike preparations, the news of which Fame had trumpeted throughout
Europe. They declared to the government, that the French in Canada had
made incursions upon lands under the dominion of Great Britain, and that
England was not inclined to suffer such usurpations. We have seen that
the two crowns, when peace was concluded, left the decision of this
affair to commissaries. Count de Argenson had foreseen, at first, that
these commissaries would completely ruin the interests of the two
courts. “Sir, said he, when two powers, with arms in hand, cannot agree
upon certain differences, it is impossible for individuals to reconcile

Nevertheless, the English council did not say that they should declare
war, but only that they were discontented with the French in America.

This declaration afflicted the King, who did not desire war. The
national debts were not yet paid, the same imposts still subsisted as
before, the people were always oppressed; so that a new war must
overwhelm them. Lewis XV. spoke to me of the misfortune that threatened
France, in such a manner as persuaded me he was sensibly affected. I
was a witness to his uneasiness upon this account; and it is but
justice, which I owe this Prince, to say he was penetrated with grief
upon the occasion. This was not the case with the ministers and military
courtiers, who were in hopes to advance their fortune by means of this
new revolution. The difficulty was not to undertake the war, but to find
generals to carry it on.

Marshal Saxe, the terror of France’s enemies, and in whom the troops
placed an implicit confidence, was dead. Of all the officers who had
served under him, there was not any one who furnished the same hopes of
his abilities. They had courage and experience: but these were not
sufficient; for I have heard it said, that to form a hero, requires an
assortment of qualities, which are seldom found in the same man.

Amongst the generals who had served in the late wars, Marshal Belleisle
was the most desirous of commanding in chief; but besides his never
having been a good general, his capacity was greatly impaired. He
expressed himself in diffuse terms, and was very verbose. It was said of
him at court, that of all the genius that had elevated him to the
pinnacle of greatness, he retained nothing but loquacity.

The state was now threatened with three different wars, two of which
were declared. That of the Bull, as it was called, which was upon the
point of causing a revolution in the state: that of the Barbarians, who,
notwithstanding the faith of treaties, interrupted the trade of the
nation; and that of the English, who were ready to give us battle.

A man of wit, who was told that the English were going to be our foes,
said, _God be praised, the bishops quarrel is now at an end, for these
people are never at war but in time of peace_.

The Archbishop of Paris, who was still exiled, and still obstinate,
wrote a letter to the King in a stile truly original, and without
example since the foundation of the monarchy. He said to the King, in
very formal terms, that “His power was superior to that of the
Sovereign, in matters relative to the administration which God hath
entrusted him with; that his duty was that of conducting his flock; that
he acknowledged no other upon earth; finally, he would not, nor could
not, retract from the first steps he had taken; that these were his last
sentiments, which would continue always the same to the grave, &c. &c.”

This was a period distinguishable for disobedience. The clergy gloried
in rebelling against the orders of the King. This obstinate disposition
had made its way into the provinces. The deputy of Languedoc related to
the King an event that happened at Montpellier, which pointed out to
this Prince the necessity of stopping the progress of such abuses. This
man said, that the wife of a counsellor of that city, who had refused to
receive the Bull, and whose life was in danger, requested the curate of
her parish to administer the sacraments to her. Upon her first request,
the curate and four vicars fled. Application was made to the other
parishes, but it was found that all the clergy who administered had
deserted. The chief justice then ordered an independent priest, and who
was not belonging to any church, to administer to the Lady. This
ecclesiastic thought it was his duty to obey; but he had observed that
the host had accompanied the priests in their retreat. He did not find
a single wafer in the tabernacles of the different churches of the city.
The curates and the secondaries had eat them all before their departure.
He consecrated one: but this was not sufficient; it must be
administered. A general insurrection was feared. The commander of the
place was obliged to put the garrison under arms, and appoint guards for
the conducting of the host in safety to the sick Lady’s house.

Such scencs as these, in a city full of Protestants, made the Romish
religion become a subject of public derision. The King was greatly
affected at it, though he would not yet resolve to use violent remedies.

I have said that the King did not desire war; to prevent which, if it
were yet possible, he sent Bussy to Hanover, where George II. was
expected. I was not for employing this man, thinking he had not
sufficient capacity to succeed in a negociation of this importance; but
Lewis XV. had been prejudiced in his favour.

Bussy’s partizans said he spoke with resolution, and an absolute tone;
qualities that were looked upon as essential at a free court, where
moderation and suppleness are always unsuccessful. But the contrary was
the truth. Bussy negociated badly to prevent the war, and he failed some
years after to restore peace; but I laid it down as a maxim, never to
oppose the King’s sentiments.

Orders were dispatched to all the commanders in the American colonies,
to fit out as many ships as they could, to oppose the designs of the
English. I heard Marshal Noailles then say, that troops should have been
sent, and not orders.

The death of Marshal Lowendahl, the pupil and companion of Count Saxe,
that happened at this time, created sorrow, which in the present
circumstances was the more sensibly felt. His military talents had made
us conceive hopes that his death destroyed. The conquest of
Bergen-op-zoom had acquired him a reputation, from which France might
have derived advantages in the war with which she was threatened. I
testified my chagrin, upon this occasion, to the King. “You have reason
to lament the death of this officer, he replied to me; he was among the
number of those who were most deserving of any confidence. It is in vain
for me to seek amongst my subjects, I shall find no one capable of
supplying his place.”

Lewis XV. who had honoured him during his life-time, was willing to
bestow marks of distinction upon him after his death. He was at the
expence of his funeral obsequies, and granted pensions to his children
of both sexes; recompences that were due to his merit, and with which
the King gratified his heirs. All those who were eclipsed by this
general’s merit, rejoiced at his death; none but real patriots lamented

Whilst France was employed about the means of supplying the expences of
the war, we learnt at Versailles that England found voluntary resources
in her subjects for her’s. Private persons offered money to such sailors
as enrolled themselves in the royal navy, and others engaged to support
their families at their own expence during the war, had it continued six

Certain communities offered free gifts to those who would bear arms
against France. I said to Marshal Belleisle, who related these facts to
me: “It appears to me, sir, that a people who act in this manner, has
the advantage over those who give no money but what they are compelled
to part with, for the expences of the war.” _That is true_, replied the
old Courtier; _but this same English nation, who thus voluntarily part
with their riches for a war, which they think useful to the state, often
lose all their advantages at a peace. A Lord who wants to make his way
to the administration by a system of pacification, intrigues with the
king, gains his confidence, and has his creatures. These set forth, that
sieges and battles ruin the state, that commerce is hurt by them, and
that industry perishes. The cabal acquire strength, the candidate
minister’s party increases, he gains the ascendent, and the peace is
signed, at the expence of the nation’s blood and treasure._

M. de Mirepoix still continued his negociations at London: he conferred
with Sir Thomas Robinson, who gave him hopes; but this was only to gain
time: the war was resolved upon. Count D’Argenson often said to the
King, that this Embassador should be recalled, as his residence in
London only amused the state, and made the French nation ridiculous. The
King and council were greatly perplexed; Lewis XV. was not willing that
Europe should be able to reproach him with having committed the first

Marshal Lowendahl, who before his death was witness to this
embarrassment, said publickly at court, that _it was better to attack as
a principal, than to be beat as a second_. This counsel was not
followed, but we repented of it.

As for me, I was neuter in this great affair. It was reported that I
wished for this war, to make myself more considerable at court. I had
no occasion for either sieges or battles, things constantly destructive
to a state, to support my credit with the King. Lewis XV. honoured me
with his confidence: all those who had endeavoured to prejudice me had
miscarried in their attempt; rank and grandeur had no longer any charms
for me: the only ambition I had remaining was the settling of my
daughter; but she was not arrived at an age to be married, and I did not
doubt that the King would honour her with his protection.

Peace was still the subject of conversation at London and Paris; but we
at length learned that the English had declared war against France in
the new world; the court of Versailles received advice, that Admiral
Boscawen had with his fleet taken the _Alcide_ man of war, upon the
banks of Newfoundland. The manner in which he took this ship aggravated
the offence. The _Alcide_ should not have been attacked, at the time it
was attacked, for she had no fighting orders. It is a custom established
amongst all civilized nations, when they declare war, to publish a
manifesto, containing the grievances which induce them to have recourse
to arms; and England had not published any such: therefore this step was
considered as a real piracy. This was observed to the King, who
immediately sent orders to the duke of Mirepoix and Bussy to return to
France, without taking leave of the court of England. Henceforward all
means of accommodation were suspended.

The King, who had been desirous of avoiding a war before it began, took
his measures as soon as he was acquainted with this first act of
hostility. His honour would let him no longer put up an affront offered
to his flag. He said, upon retiring from the council, “Madam, war is
declared; the English are my enemies.”

The operations of the war office took place; the armaments by land and
sea, the augmentation of the troops, and the means of supporting the
army, were taken into consideration.

From this time the King lived more retired, he did not hunt so often,
and he debarred himself several diversions which he took before. He
conferred regularly with his ministers. Count D’Argenson, with whom he
was often locked up, gave him a circumstantial detail of his land
forces, and the naval minister laid before him a similar account of his
navy. Lewis XV. made several objections to them concerning the principal
points of their administration, to which these chiefs in office were
obliged to answer.

The count D’Argenson, whose administration was then the most important,
as he was at the head of military affairs, told the King that his troops
were in a good state, that military discipline was well enforced, that
the French were fond of war, and that we might flatter ourselves with
successful campaigns, provided the generals seconded the ardour of the
troops, and were not themselves an obstacle to the grandeur of France.

The conferences with the minister of the finances were of a still more
intricate nature; there were many ancient debts unpaid, the revenues of
the crown were mortgaged, commerce and industry, which had just
recovered some little vigour since the peace, were upon the point of
returning to their inactive state.

The comptroller-general said to the King, “Sire, the state of things
must not be disguised to your Majesty; great springs must be put in
motion to maintain the burthen of the war. I have made a calculation
from the state of your finances, and they will procure me resources for
four years: if at the end of that time peace should not take place, the
campaigns cannot be carried on without imposing very oppressive taxes
upon your people.”

The King, who after this conference paid me a visit, said, _that he had
just been conversing with a minister, who was the honestest man in all
France; for such I must call him_, he added, _who has so much probity as
to speak freely to his King_.

The minister of the war department required an augmentation of 40000
men, which was granted him, and orders were issued accordingly for
raising recruits. M. Belleisle told me, that so many men were not
necessary for the defence of a handful of barbarians, that this would
increase the expences of the state, and only tend to weaken it. He did
not forsee that these levies were nothing in comparison of those that
were to be afterwards made.

France had been perfectly secured by the treaty of Aix la Chapelle. Her
ports were open and defenceless. Upon the commission of the first acts
of hostility in America, it was resolved to restore the works at
Dunkirk. The prince of Soubise was appointed by the King to see this
operation take place: eight thousand troops were allotted him to favour
the execution of this design.

Upon the first reports of the revolutions in Canada, two successive
squadrons were dispatched, of which no news had yet been received. The
uncertainty of the success of this small naval armament suspended the
grand operations by land.

The council of state could not resolve upon any fixed plan of
operations, the members being divided in their opinion. I was a witness
to a great part of the diversity of sentiments which then disturbed the
court, with respect to this grand affair.

A man of much good sense said, like Marshal Belleisle, “that great
armies were useless; that land campaigns were not the object, but a sea
war; that the colonies should be put in a state of security, which alone
could be conquered; that the plan of the English was not to increase
their power in Europe, but to extend their limits in America; that all
their designs tended that way, and that we should direct ours to the
same object; that France was guarantied in Europe by the general
balance; but that there was no system whereby our settlements in the new
world were guarantied; that the crown would lose its influence, when
trade would be entirely in the power of the English; that the British
navy was already superior to the navies of all Europe, but that after
the loss of Canada and the other parts of the continent of America, it
would be the only one in Europe; that this was the crisis for France,
and that if the opportunity was neglected of protecting ourselves from
this last attempt, it would never return; that all other plans of
warlike operations should be given up, to pursue that of the colonies,
as they interested the general republic; but that this personally and
solely interested France; that America being once conquered, the whole
body of Europe could not restore the equilibrium, because the power of
the first states of the continent did not extend to the sea; that the
English in the center of the christian world, were separated from
Christendom; that they could not be attacked in their own islands; that
nature had secured them from all invasions in Europe, _&c._”

The opposite party, on the contrary, said, “that great armies should be
raised to oppose the allies of England, who would not fail to form
designs in Germany; that here the capital strokes would be struck; that
the war in America was only the pretext for that which was to be carried
on in Europe; that some troops should be sent to Canada; but that
numerous legions should be raised for Germany; that we were mistaken if
we thought the English limited their enterprizes to America, as it was
visible that their designs tended to excite a revolution in the north of
Europe; that the general balance guarantied France no farther than she
herself contributed to support a just equilibrium; that with respect to
trade in general, there was no reason to apprehend that England could
engross it, as there were not sufficient materials in that country to
compass the design; that the English were compelled to have recourse to
industrious nations, and where the price of labour was not so high; that
universal trade consisted in exchanges, and that a people who should
considerably diminish that of other states, would greatly cramp their
own; that with respect to the navy, one could not be immediately formed
to balance that of England; that the expences made upon this account
would be endless, as the time was too short and the means too
circumscribed; that the loss of Canada was not certain, the events of
war being casual; that the savage nations loved the French and hated the
English; that they would prefer being exterminated, rather than submit
to the British yoke; lastly, that if Canada should be conquered in this
war, it might be retaken in another; but that if the English, united
with their allies, should avail themselves of favourable circumstances
to gain advantages in Europe, it would be then too late to repair the
damage, as the last victories would be guarantied by new treaties of
peace; whereas in America the barbarous nations in alliance with France,
who are unacquainted with the laws of nations, are always ready to
create revolutions: in a word, that it was France’s interest to set on
foot numerous armies to support her pretensions by land, and to yield
for some time the dominion of the sea, _&c._ _&c._”

A third party maintained that both these objects should be attended to:
“We should (said they) prevent the English making conquests in America,
and hinder any taking place in Europe. France is sufficiently powerful
for this; she need only manage well her forces; she will prevail every
where, when those who govern the state unite in one common interest;
that is to say, the glory of the nation, and the happiness of the
people. If the northern powers of Europe are inclinable to avail
themselves of the misunderstandings in America, we must keep our
engagements, and send 24000 men into Germany. A more numerous army can
only procure us a greater loss without any advantage. These moderate
succours will enable us to send more considerable assistance to the new
world, to protect our colonies; the revolution in Canada is not a
maritime quarrel, it is a land war. The point is to defend the
continent, and it is only necessary to land troops there; and this the
English cannot prevent. They have taken no measures yet to block up the
passages; but if we do not make haste, we shall be too late; for the
English, who keep a steady eye upon our operations, will no sooner find
that we do not make any great preparations by land, than they will begin
to make very considerable ones by sea.”

There was also a numerous party inclined for peace: the reasons which
they alledged, were founded upon our inability of carrying on the war;
but the minds of the people were too much agitated to listen to plans of
pacification; each had his schemes for pushing his fortune, and private
interest always prevails over the common weal. Subaltern officers who
wanted advancement, were desirous of sieges and battles. Those who
endeavoured to obtain the command of armies, were desperate advocates
for war; and such as would be employed in furnishing the necessaries for
carrying it on, thought it indispensable: it is plain from these
motives, how little the interest of the state was considered.

During this crisis the clergy of France were assembled; they deliberated
very seriously, whether sick people should have the sacraments
administered, or whether they should die without them. The bishops who
had been brought over by the court and the parliament, were of opinion,
that they could not be refused this assistance. Those who expected
nothing of the King, and who hated the parliament, maintained on the
contrary, that they should be refused them like heretics. At length,
after many debates, they seemed inclinable to leave this great affair to
the determination of the Pope.

I learnt this news with pleasure. Benedict XIV. then filled the papal
chair. Many persons who had been at Rome, gave me a very favourable
opinion of this pontiff. He despised his predecessors, refined policy of
turning every thing to their own advantage; the first steps he took upon
his obtaining the pontificate, made me conceive a real esteem for him.
He had abolished at Rome those wretched equivocations, which in serving
as food for superstition, dishonour the Christian religion. He knew that
God sometimes wrought miracles, but that he does not daily alter the
course of nature. This prince of the church preferred the title of an
honest man to that of a holy one, and this quality raised him above all
the Popes that ever existed upon earth. Benedict XIV. had so much
understanding and so little prejudice, that his decision could not fail
to restore tranquility to the Gallican church.

The administration of the sacraments was not the only disquisition which
engaged the clergy; the grand affair for which they were convened, and
in which the whole body were unanimous, was to deny the authority of the
parliaments, or any other body of laymen whatever. Lewis XV. who could
not begin the war without oppressing his people, was willing to set them
an example of œconomy, by diminishing his household expences. He
reduced his hunting equipages, and the number of his hunting horses in
both stables. The expences of his little journies were regulated and
diminished: it was resolved that there should be no diversions this year
at court, and the works of the Louvre were suspended, _&c._

The Count D’Argenson said, “that these savings are so small an object,
that they will scarce enrich a commissary of stores during the war.”

I was myself often inclined to have an eye to œconomy; but M. de
Belleisle had told me that it was scarce possible to benefit the state
by such frugality; he added, “if it were an evil, it was impossible to
remedy it; but that all those who served the King would enrich
themselves; that a reform would produce no advantage; that it was better
to continue employing the old officers who were already opulent, than to
replace them with new ones, who would endeavour to become so.”

Neither the council of state nor the warlike preparations deprived me of
the King’s company, who visited me regularly, and communicated to me his
designs and intentions. The resolution he had taken of being revenged of
his enemies, gave him an air of satisfaction, which he had not before
he had taken it; his only uneasiness was for his people: he was afraid
that the continuance of the war would exhaust them too much.

It was thought necessary to review the troops, and there were three
encampments. The prince of Soubise wanted the command of the camp of
Hainault: I spoke to the King, and it was granted him. M. de Chevert,
and the Marquis de Voyer, in whose favour I also interested myself,
obtained the two others.

Though hostilities were begun in America, Lewis XV. would not continue
them in Europe. A frigate of the Brest squadron having taken an English
frigate, the King immediately ordered it to be released, as he said, _he
would not make war in time of peace, and be the first to infringe the
treaty of Aix la Chapelle in Europe_.

A general officer, who was in my apartment when the King told me he had
just dispatched this order, could not refrain telling him, in my
presence, “Permit me, Sire, to represent to your Majesty, that this
moderation will noways alter the system of the court of London. The
English have resolved to fall upon us, and to seize all such ships as
they think they have the superiority over: reprisals are necessary, and
we should seize all such vessels as are inferior in strength to our’s
that meet with them.”

The Count de Argenson said, there was but one method of carrying on the
war, “which was to drub the enemy well, and take a good deal from them.”

The sea-officers paid their court regularly to me; for the navy was to
have the honour of this war. There was a promotion of officers, and I
interested myself in behalf of some, in consequence of the characters
that were given me of their capacity and courage.

I know that complaints have often been made in France of my choice of
certain persons, as well in the army as in the administration: but those
who condemned me were unacquainted with Versailles. Every courtier has a
party who cry up their talents and genius. It is impossible to descry
real merit through these extravagant elogiums. All those who are
interested in a courtier’s advancement, either in the army or in the
government, hide his faults, and display his good qualities; for every
man has a favourable side.

The death of Madame, daughter to the Dauphin, created fresh affliction
for the King. I have often heard the happiness of Kings extolled, when
they are in reality more to be pitied than other men. A citizen has
scarce any thing but domestic troubles to afflict him: a Monarch unites
family misfortunes with those of the state.

Scarce had Lewis wiped away his tears, before he had news of a battle
that was fought in America, near the Ohio, between his troops and those
of England, in which General Braddock fell, and where the French gained
a compleat victory. The blood that was spilt in this affair, a detail of
which may be found in the annals of Europe, closed all avenues to an
accommodation. The only measure to be taken in Europe was to be upon the
defensive, and this was not taken. The English seized as many
merchant-ships in Europe as they met with in both seas. The commanders
of these ships had received orders to surrender without making any
resistance. I desired the King to explain to me the motive of this
policy, and he replied to me as before, _that he would not break
treaties, and make war in time of peace_.

The English availed themselves of this moderation; they became absolute
masters of the sea, and filled their island with French prisoners.

At the very time that the court of Versailles piqued themselves upon
fulfilling their engagements, the court of London reproached us with
breaking them. The restoration of the works at Dunkirk was construed
into an infraction of these same treaties, for which France sacrificed
what power she had remaining at sea. In this manner each government
endeavoured to justify their designs; and thus was ambition disguised
under every form to obtain its ends.

Marshal Noailles, who was not of opinion that France should let the
remainder of her navigation and trade be crushed, to convince all Europe
that the English made war like pirates, said, that this external
moderation deceived none, that the court of Versailles alone was

Those who agreed in opinion with the King, pretended that all these
captures made without a declaration of war would be restored; but real
politicians thought otherwise, and experience has demonstrated, by the
event, that these were not deceived.

Repeated orders were dispatched to all the sea-ports, and preparations
were making for a land-war; but there was not a sufficient fund in the
royal treasury to support the extraordinary expences. The
Comptroller-general said to the King, “Sire, the farmers-general offer
your Majesty money, it should be taken. They will lend the crown
sixty-six millions at 4 per cent. the state in its present exigence
cannot purchase money at a cheaper rate.”

It may, perhaps, be thought that the financiers, affected at the state
of France, made this voluntary proposal from a spirit of patriotism; but
posterity will know that the same sordid interest which constantly
actuates them, incited them to display this generosity. One of the first
conditions was, that the lease of the farms should be renewed. They
afterwards insisted that there should be no under-farmers; that is to
say, that the profits arising from the farms should be no longer
divided, and that they should be sole masters of the finances. They also
wanted to have the disposal of all the employments in the farms.

It was publicly said in Paris, that I had framed the scheme of this
loan. It is true that four farmers-general applied to me, to make the
proposal from their body, and that I mentioned it to the King. Lewis
XV. had it examined in his council, who approved of it; this is all the
share I had in the transaction. Those who imagine that a King of France
can raise money by the act of his own private will, are unacquainted
with the government. This sum was far from being sufficient to put in
motion all the machines of war that were foreseen to be necessary. The
King borrowed thirty millions upon the posts at 3 per cent. but even
this additional sum was not enough. The King’s secretaries, as well of
the upper as the inferior college, were taxed, and this impost, the
least burthensome perhaps of any, because it fell upon such as purchased
their employments through ostentation, produced a supply of forty-five

With this fund, it was incumbent upon us to oppose the designs of the
English at sea, and of such powers as were enemies to France by land.

I saw the King as usual. He supped almost every night with me, and
communicated to me all his plans and designs. Difficulties did not
astonish him. Lewis XV. is slow at resolving, but when he is determined,
his resolution is firm. He appeared more gay than usual: perhaps the
internal tranquility of the state greatly contributed towards it; for
the broils with the court of England had produced so good an effect at
home, that schisms were no longer the subject of conversation. The
curates administered to the sick, and thus the clergy and parliament
were reconciled.

We learnt at Versailles that George II. who had made a voyage to his
Electoral dominions, was returned to London. His presence was there
necessary to expedite the military operations. We were at the same time
informed, that several councils had been held at Kensington, in which it
was resolved to make war. It had already been pursued for some time; and
these councils were held only to deliberate upon the means. The English
had by this time taken from the French 250 merchantmen, and made upwards
of 4000 sailors prisoners of war.

The two nations mutually upbraided each other with the injustice of
their proceedings. The English reproached the French with having
infringed upon the treaty of peace, and the French openly declared, that
the English made war like pirates; and added, that the parliament of
England might be compared to the Divan of Constantinople, and George II.
to the Dey of Algiers.

The Duke of Belleisle said, that these reproaches were carried too far;
that there were sufficient grounds for the two nations fighting for
five hundred years without declaring war.

Count de Argenson asked a foreign minister, in my presence, _Which of
the two parties was the most equitable?_ “They are both unjust, said the
foreigner. France is in the wrong for having made incursions upon the
British dominions in America, and for having fortified Dunkirk; and
England has done amiss by seizing the ships of this nation, and for
having made prisoners of war in time of peace.”

I related this discourse to the King, who said, that most of the foreign
ministers were unacquainted with the origin of the dispute, and that
they judged of things only by appearances, or according to the ideas
they entertained of their own country.

These private discourses no way altered the general operations. The
armaments by sea and land continued going on, and we prepared ourselves
for war. The Pope offered his mediation; this was Benedict XIV. The
matter might have been referred to him, had it been possible for him to
have negotiated the affair in person; but it must have been entrusted to
nuncios, who are usually men as ambitious as they are ignorant, and who
are acquainted with no other politics than those of the Vatican.

The King of Portugal also offered his service: but as he was incapable
of throwing any weight in the scale, he occasioned no alteration in the
designs that were formed for pursuing the war.

The duke of Noailles said, he was surprised that petty princes without
power, should think of being the arbiters of the power of the first
states in Europe.

I shall not conceal to posterity that pacific proposals were made
between the two courts; but they were so distant from their respective
views, that it may be presumed they were offered only to make the torch
of war blaze the more, though the pretext was to extinguish it.

France’s demands were great, and the English required too much. This was
the method of succeeding in the design that was formed of not agreeing.

In order to increase the troops, and render the armies more numerous,
recourse was had to an expedient which was of very little consequence.
The invalids, who, by their services and their wounds, had obtained
admission into the hospital, were ordered to bear arms and fight the
enemies of the state.

A wit said upon this occasion, that “this was having recourse to the
dead to wage war against the living.”

In proportion as the quarrel between France and England increased, Lewis
XV. gave me more power. It was imagined in the world, that I was the
arbitress of this new revolution: it is true, the King asked my opinion
upon many things; but I took care not to be answerable for such events
as might give a new biass to affairs in general: I referred them to the
council of state, leaving them to share all the blame, if any was

The ministers saw me more regularly, and the general officers who were
desirous of commanding the armies, paid their court to me with
remarkable assiduity.

Whilst agreeable news was received from the new world, the court was
very uneasy about two squadrons which had set sail for America; but
advice came of their being returned to Brest. The King came himself to
acquaint me with the news, at which he testified much joy. It was
natural to think that the ships which composed these squadrons would
fall into the hands of the English, who had sent very considerable
fleets to America.

The first advantage the French gained in Canada, produced a second. The
Iroquois nation offered to enter into alliance with the French.

The count D’Argenson shewed me the discourse which the deputies of this
savage people addressed to M. Vaudreuil, who commanded the King’s

“May the Great Spirit preserve the captain of the French and his valiant
warriors! May the extent of their courage be measured by the number of
their wounds! We, whose nations are as ancient as the stars, and the
most courageous upon earth, come to offer thee the right arm of our
warriors. The black gowns who are amongst us, have taken care to make
us acquainted with thy nation, which is the most valiant of any after
our own, because they have seen that these warriors might learn from
ours what they did not know before. Our nation, who reckon more than ten
thousand moons, come then to unite their forces to assist thee, in order
to regale our wives and children with the dead bodies of the enemies of
the captain of the French. Receive the calumet of peace, and as a mark
of joy, give three shouts to the sun, which is risen to enlighten our

This letter being made public at Versailles, a courtier, who had read
it, said to the King: “Sire, we must make an alliance with the Iroquois,
for they will eat as many Englishmen as they can find. Those people are
so famished with glory, that they devour their conquests.”

A few days after the return of the Brest fleets, the King said to me:
“The English parliament desire peace, the people of England want war. I
shall take no steps to procure the last; but if it is proposed to me
upon honourable terms, I will accept of it.”

M. de Belleisle told me, that no terms would be proposed, and that all
the reports that were spread in England, were only designed to amuse
France, and surprise the government.

“Marshal, said I to him, we may possibly be surprised, for it is above a
year since we were told that we ought to be so.”

Whilst warlike preparations were making on every side, the ministers
often received memorials from individuals, pointing out the object of
our first attack.

The French have for some time been greatly addicted to politics. It is
pretended that we caught the infection from the English, and that it was
communicated to France by the way of Calais. A man of great wit said to
me one day upon this head, that since this contagion had spread, an
infinite number of people, whose labour and industry might have been
very beneficial to the state, became idle spectators. In England this
rage is not so dangerous; the citizens engage themselves as well with
their own private affairs, as with the administration in general. But in
France, when a man gives himself up to politics, he passes his life

The Count D’Argenson shewed me a memorial, which he had received from an
unknown hand, bearing this title, _Important advice to the government_.

“We should not wage war, said the anonymous author, either in Germany or
in America; the English navy is superior to ours: the English will in
the end have the advantage over us. In opposing ourselves to their
forces, we shall only compleatly ruin our own.

“We should take the field with a bold stroke. It should seem for some
time past, as if our ministers were paid by the English government, to
go into all the snares that were laid for them. It is only necessary
that the court of London chalk out a plan, for that of Versailles to
follow them. This bold stroke is to enter into alliance with Spain, and
invade Portugal provisionally. The Portuguese are allies of the English,
and this is a sufficient plea to conquer them: I say this is sufficient,
for princes have long since thought they had no occasion for a pretext
to make war: it was only necessary that an invasion favoured their

“That kingdom is easy to invade; Portugal has neither armies nor
officers, for we should not consider as soldiers, a few natives badly
disciplined, who never saw fire, and commanders that never served. Some
months must elapse before the English can send them troops and generals.
Lisbon will be taken before the English fleet can set sail to defend it.

“Portugal being once in the hands of the French, the English will
attempt nothing; or else at the peace, they will give up every thing.

“To form a judgment of the importance of this invasion, the advantages
which Great Britain derives from Portugal should be considered.

“All Europe knows that this kingdom has no manufactures, and that the
English furnish the Portuguese not only with every thing which promotes
their luxury, but even their physical wants. Forty thousand artizans, in
every kind of trade, are constantly at work for them. Portugal maintains
forty thousand of King George’s subjects. These contribute to the
support of an equal number of other citizens; and as this primitive
industry is the source of infinite subordinate species of it, the
interruption given to these manufactures would occasion a diminution in
the general circulation.

“Eight thousand merchantmen sail every year from the river Thames to
enter the Tagus; twenty thousand English sailors are therefore supported
by this single branch of commerce.

“The mines of Brazil produce annually fresh riches for England, which
are the more advantageous, as they furnish that nation with the means of
purchasing alliances, and paying subsidies. It is partly with the gold
of Portugal that Great Britain maintains her fleets, and raises armies.

“It is true that the riches of Portugal are in America, and that the
English fleets might possess themselves of the mines; but the English
would not derive great advantage from this conquest.

“The extraction of gold is a manufacture that must be rendered
profitable, to draw advantages from it: and this capacity is not the lot
of every one. The Portuguese, naturally sober, and who have but few
wants, can alone derive these advantages from it; the English, with whom
labour is much dearer, would be losers by it. Great Britain, instead of
being enriched, would be impoverished by the mines.

“It is a general rule, that mines always ruin their proprietors, as
Spain and Portugal evince, which are continually impoverished in
proportion as their mines become fruitful. The only nations that are
thereby enriched, are those who barter their industry for the produce.

“The invasion of Portugal would make a change in all the systems of
Europe. It would cause a general revolution in cabinets. The face of
affairs in Germany would be entirely altered. The King of Prussia would
change his plans. The Belligerant powers, who are preparing for a
certain war, would be obliged to carry on another, which would greatly
distress many powers.

“France by this first cast would save great armies, and still greater
sums. Portugal would be no sooner taken, than the English would set
about re-taking it: this war, which would at once entirely occupy them,
would divert them from any other.

“The English ministry are prepared for every thing, except the invasion
of Portugal. They have planned all their operations for the German war,
and that in America; but no steps are taken for the defence of Portugal.

“But this expedition should be equally secret as speedy: these form the
soul of success. The greatest part of our operations miscarry, because
they are tardy and public. The enemy is almost constantly acquainted
with our designs the very instant that they are projected: this is the
certain means of rendering them abortive. The English, it is true, are
not prepared to oppose this invasion; but if they gain timely notice of
it, they will set aside some other plans to prevent this. Expedition and
penetration are, we know, the two characteristic qualities of that

“The court of Madrid should be made acquainted with this scheme by an
extraordinary courier, and their assistance requested; or, we should
rather propose giving up Portugal to them, after the invasion.

“If the court of Madrid has hitherto refused entering into alliance with
France, it was because an expensive war was proposed to them, which
offered nothing but charges without conquest: but when we propose giving
them, as the fruit of their alliance, a kingdom at hand, and to which
they pretend having ancient claims, they will not hesitate a moment.

“The troops that are in Rousillon, Languedoc, and Provence, should be
forwarded by degrees nearer and nearer; the marching of those that are
more distant would discover the project.”



 [A] The Thesis of the Abbé Prade.

 [B] We did not know that the magistrate first brought the Sorbonne
 back to their duty, and awakened the zeal of the pastors, who slept in
 tranquility by the side of the wolf.

 [C] The features of this portrait were certainly drawn for the late
 Duke of Orleans, to whom, we are assured, the archbishop refused the
 sacraments. If this be true, who dare think himself worthy of aspiring
 to this favour?

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